Stoke City vs Man City Live preview: Sergio Aguero sidelined as Pep Guardiola warns against complacency
Pep Guardiola has stressed his Manchester City side – without injured Sergio Aguero – still have work to do to win the Premier League ahead of their trip to Stoke City on Monday Night Football.
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City, who are 16 points clear at the top of the table, are just four wins away from securing the title having already won the Carabao Cup and reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
However, while Guardiola acknowledges that City are closing in on glory, he was also keen to stress the job is not completed yet.
“The distance is not normal in the beginning of March. It’s like I said before, it’s almost done,” he said.
“But we are not the champions. The champions are still Chelsea. We have to get the points as soon as possible, knowing that we have the opportunity.
“I know everyone wants to anticipate the situation and what will happen, everyone is thinking about when we will win the title.
“But the best example was two days ago. Nobody thought we could lose against Basel and we lost against Basel. We need to be relaxed, stay calm and think about Stoke City.”
Stoke forward Mame Diouf is set to sit out the game with City due to the shoulder injury he sustained last weekend at Southampton.
Defender Kevin Wimmer and striker Saido Berahino, who have been placed on programmes to up their fitness levels, could return to the matchday squad after missing the last six and two games respectively.
Midfielder Stephen Ireland (calf) is not yet ready to make his comeback, and goalkeeper Lee Grant (broken wrist) also remain sidelined.
City playmaker David Silva returns after missing the midweek Champions League clash against Basel for personal reasons but striker Aguero picked up a knee problem in training and is set to spend two weeks on the sidelines.
Forward Raheem Sterling and midfielder Fernandinho are both hoping to prove their fitness after returning to training following hamstring injuries.
Left-back Fabian Delph is available again after suspension but could be doubtful after suffering a knock. Benjamin Mendy (knee) is also back in training and could return in the next month.
Stoke have kept a clean sheet in three of their last seven Premier League games against City, but have conceded 19 goals across the other four games in that time, including seven in the reverse fixture in October.
City haven’t done the league double over Stoke since 1998-99, when they were in the third tier together.
Indeed, the Citizens have only won two of their nine Premier League trips to the Bet365 Stadium (D5 L2), though these have come in their last three visits there and both by a 4-1 scoreline.
Stoke vs Man City
March 12, 2018, 7:00pm
The Potters have only won one of their 15 Premier League games against teams starting that day top of the table (D3 L11), but that win came at home vs Man City in December 2015 (2-0).
The team starting the day top of the table hasn’t lost to a team starting that day in the relegation zone since Manchester United lost to Wigan in April 2012, with the top team winning 21 and drawing four since then.
No side has been trailing for longer in Premier League matches than Stoke this season (9 hours, 10 minutes), while Man City have been in front for a league-high 22 hours and 23 minutes.
It’s a case of getting this one out of the way for Stoke and move on. I don’t mean that horribly, but you don’t want to come out of the game on the back of a 5-0 with the confidence shattered. You’ve got to worry for Stoke – Man City don’t have a game for about three weeks. They could go to town.
Stoke have done alright under Paul Lambert, they got a good draw last week but I’m just being realistic, and last week City made Chelsea look extremely average. You look at them, they’re fairly sound defensively but they’re not hurting anyone up the other end too much. If you’re going to play that way, against Manchester City, they’re going to break them down at some point.