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City stalemate cheers Hughes for Etihad assignment

13 October 2017 11:36

Mark Hughes insists Stoke City have the capacity to cause Premier League leaders Manchester City some problems when they visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola's City are in prime form, having won their past eight matches in all competitions.

That run includes back-to-back 5-0 wins over Liverpool and Crystal Palace in their previous two home league games.

It was a different story for the Manchester club against Stoke last season, when an impressive rearguard action from Hughes' men saw them leave with a 0-0 draw in March.

Hughes also claimed victory for the Potters at his former club in 2014, when Mame Biram Diouf scored the only goal with a brilliant solo effort.

"The strength at the top of the league is huge and Man City are well equipped," he told a pre-match news conference.

"They have power and pace and if they have any weaknesses they can address them in the market. It's a big test for us but it's not one we are afraid of. We did well there last year. 

"The last two home games they have won 5-0 and we will have to be at our best. We have got threats ourselves and players who can change games."

One player who would come into that category is Joe Allen but Hughes confirmed the midfielder will miss out after suffering concussion during Wales' World Cup qualifying defeat to the Republic of Ireland in midweek.

"Joe's not great actually - he came in yesterday, felt a lot better, but the reality is that he isn't going to be available," said the manager, who will assess Bruno Martins Indi as the defender steps up his recovery from a groin problem.

"Clearly concussion is something that you can't take any risks with, and we have to follow the protocol.

"He won't be available for Saturday, unfortunately. He had a big bang to the head, and he finds it difficult to remember the incident itself, so that tells you the severity of it."

Stoke have performed creditably against last season's top six over the opening weeks of the current campaign.

They beat Arsenal 1-0 at home and are the only side to take a point off Manchester United, although defending champions ran out 4-0 winners at the bet365 Stadium last month amid a defensive crisis for the hosts.

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