Manchester City v Stoke City: Mark Hughes says Stoke face 'huge task', despite facing Gunners in aftermath of Champions League defeat - Premier League - Football - The Independent

Manchester City v Stoke City: Mark Hughes says Stoke face 'huge task', despite facing Gunners in aftermath of Champions League defeat

The Potters boss has pointed to Arsenal's fine home record this season

Mark Hughes hopes Stoke can follow in the footsteps of three of his former clubs and upset another of his old sides Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

City have won all but three of their 21 home matches this season, losing to title rivals Chelsea in the Premier League and Bayern Munich and Barcelona in the Champions League.

Hughes played for all three clubs, while perhaps more relevantly he is also taking confidence from Stoke's impressive performance in holding City to a draw at the Britannia Stadium in September as well as wins over Chelsea and Manchester United.

Two of Manchester City's three home losses have come this month, including to Barca on Tuesday, but Hughes does not expect the confidence of Manuel Pellegrini's side to be affected.

The Potters boss said: "They're able to go from one challenge to another and refocus very quickly.

"They've got a huge squad of great quality. The difficulty from my point of view is knowing who they're going to pick on the day.

"They've been absolutely outstanding at home and averaged a significant amount of goals as well, so it's a huge task.

"But we've had really positive results against the top teams this year, beating Chelsea and Manchester United, drawing with City, which very few teams have been able to accomplish, so we were pleased with that performance at the Britannia.

"We'll have to match that and maybe go somewhere a little bit more as well."

Hughes understands the pressure on Pellegrini's shoulders having been the City manager when the Abu Dhabi United Group took over the club in 2008.

The Welshman brought current City stalwarts Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta to the club but was sacked in December 2009 and replaced by Roberto Mancini.

Mancini guided City to their first Premier League title in 2012 but was shown the door a year later, with Pellegrini taking over the reins in June.

Failure to progress in the Champions League was a key factor in Mancini's departure, and Tuesday's 2-0 loss to Barcelona means City look unlikely to get beyond the last 16 this time.

Pellegrini did at least lead them out of the group stages for the first time, and asked if the Chilean might be concerned about his future, Hughes said: "I wouldn't have thought so.

"It was different times for Manchester City during my time. I was right at the beginning of trying to change the standing of the club and take it to a different level.

"Roberto Mancini was in the middle and really pushed it forward and Pellegrini has a great opportunity to solidify the club and really push it on to even greater levels.

"The Champions League is a huge prize for any club and that's the one prize they'll be chasing in the coming years.

"Whether or not they'll be able to overcome the deficit against Barcelona, it's difficult to really think they can, but who knows.

"They've got top quality world-class players within their ranks and if they all click on the one occasion they need to then they can still stay in the Champions League.

"My part was a small part at the beginning and you move on. You don't bear grudges or be bitter about it. I enjoyed my time there."

Stoke's record at the Etihad Stadium is far from encouraging, with the Potters having lost on all five of their Premier League visits, conceding 14 goals and scoring none.

Stoke sit only three points above the relegation zone but are unbeaten in February after defeating Manchester United and drawing with Southampton and Swansea.

"We're reasonably happy with what we've taken out of those three games," said Hughes, who returned from a warm-weather training camp with his squad in Dubai on Wednesday.

"Now it's important that we continue in the same vein. We've had a break, we've enjoyed it. We had four good days of training. We're looking forward to the challenges ahead of us."

Stoke will be without winger Oussama Assaidi, who tore a knee ligament in Dubai, while on-loan striker John Guidetti is ineligible against his parent club.

PA

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