Stoke Manchester City

ROBERTO Mancini will not be relishing a trip to the Britannia Stadium tomorrow having endured a torrid time there in recent seasons. The defending champions have needed late equalisers to scrape two draws from their past two visits and were well beaten in the remaining three contests at the ground since Stoke’s return to the Premier League.

Both clubs are undefeated in three fixtures this season, but that doesn’t tell the whole story in City’s case. Mancini’s side have looked unusually vulnerable at the back having already conceded five times. Tony Pulis will be pleased City are showing signs of weakness and one can expect the regular barrage of crosses into the box to further test their resilience.

Stoke have secured three respectable draws and held Arsenal to a point in their only home league outing as the manager continues to look for his best XI. The Potters added seven players during the transfer window, with Michael Owen’s signature on a pay-per-play deal being the most notable. If Owen starts, he’ll line up with former England partner Peter Crouch and they should give the City backline a real test.

The champions were lucky to escape Anfield with a point and given their recent struggles at Stoke, the 11/4 on Betfair for the points to be shared appeals. It’s finished 1-1 on City’s previous two trips to the Britannia and a repeat at a generally available 13/2 wouldn’t be a surprise.

Spread bettors are therefore advised to sell total goals at 2.6 with Sporting Index.

■ Pointers…

Draw at 11/4 on Betfair
1-1 correct score at 13/2 general
Sell total goals at 2.6 with Sporting Index