Stoke City vs. Manchester City preview
Michael Owen could be set to reintroduce himself to the world of football tomorrow after tentatively declaring himself fit to make his debut for his new club. The Stoke striker, who was acquired after being disposed of by Manchester United, is being assessed by Potters boss Tony Pulis, alongside fellow new signings Steven Nzonzi and Maurice Edu.
Another new boy, Liverpool cast-off Charlie Adam, may get his first start of the campaign after making his bow as a substitute in the 2-2 draw at Wigan only a day after arriving on deadline day. In slightly less fresh and exciting news, familiar stalwarts Matthew Etherington (hamstring) and Andy Wilkinson (concussion) could both be back in the first team frame after their respective injuries, but midfielder Jamie Ness (groin) will not be available.
As for the champions, the fanfare of a potential splurge of debutants in Staffordshire has been somewhat dwarfed by the news their star striker Sergio Aguero could return from a knee problem. The diminutive forward injured himself only nine minutes into the opening game of the season against Southampton, but has made a speedy recovery and could be thrown straight into the action.
If Roberto Mancini is feeling a little protective over his talismanic striker, which would perhaps be understandable considering the merciless nature of his sides’ hosts, then he can count on fellow forward Mario Balotelli after the Italian underwent minor eye surgery during the international break. However, midfielder Gareth Barry, who missed England’s World Cup qualifiers with an abdominal injury, is not yet fully fit and defender Micah Richards (ankle) remains sidelined.
As for those deadline day deals, defenders Maicon, Matija Nastasić and former Benfica midfielder Javi Garcia look set to play some part, whilst winger Scott Sinclair will assume the Adam Johnson position on the bench for the foreseeable future. Finally it will surely delight City fans across the globe that former Arsenal and Ipswich goalkeeper Richard Wright will be part of the travelling squad.
Stoke City: Begović, Sorensen, Huth, Shawcross, Cameron, Upson, Wilkinson, Shotton, Wilson, Whelan, Etherington, Pennant, Delap, Palacios, Jones, Jerome, Crouch, Walters, Kightly, Whitehead, Adam, Edu, Nzonzi, Owen.
Manchester City: Hart, Pantilimon, Wright, Maicon, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, K Toure, Nastasic, Clichy, Kolarov, Nasri, Milner, Y Toure, Rodwell, Silva, Garcia, Sinclair, Aguero, Dzeko, Balotelli, Tevez, Razak.
Prediction: Stoke City 1-1 Manchester City
Providing Peter Crouch doesn’t summon the ability to create goals out of absolutely nothing again, City should garner more than their last trip to the Potteries when a draw seemed to all but end their pursuit of a first league title.
Jamie Murphy, football correspondent