Stoke and Manchester City meet at the Britannia in Saturday’s early Premier League kick off in a game that could provide Pep Guardiola with his first real taste of English football.
The Potters won this fixture 2-0 last season and although they are no longer the physically imposing side they once were, they will not be afraid to mix it up if required.
Guardiola will have been pleased with the fluency his City players showed in Tuesday’s 5-0 Champions League win over Steaua Bucharest but his side are unlikely to be afforded the same time and space they enjoyed in the Romanian capital.
Since taking over in 2013, former Citizens boss Mark Hughes has transformed the Staffordshire club into a far more exciting unit and the summer signings of Joe Allen and Ramadan Sobhi have only added to their ambitions in attack.
Hitting the big boys on the break seems to be their speciality and these tactics exposed the Citizens’ weaknesses last season when a first-half brace from Marko Arnautovic sealed all three points.
If they start with the same attacking quartet of Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan, Arnautovic and Mame Biram Diouf as in their opening 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough, they could again cause the visitors major issues and 17/4 looks a decent price for a home win.
City were somewhat disjointed in narrowly defeating Sunderland 2-1 last weekend but found their feet in Bucharest and are understandably the 20/29 favourites.
Sergio Aguero grabbed a hat-trick in Romania, while also missing two penalties, and 29/10 for him to score first is certainly worth considering.
The Argentine missed last season’s game between these two through injury but is likely to lead the attack in an extremely offensive line-up that could also feature Nolito, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.
All five have started in previous outings and, despite the threat posed by Stoke, Guardiola may see no reason to change a winning formula, especially with his team likely to enjoy the lion’s share of possession.
The contrasting styles of play mean plenty of goalmouth action could be on the agenda in the Potteries and 2/1 for over 3.5 goals certainly looks a fair price.