Arsenal title winner: Barca rocked City confidence, games catching up for them!

Manchester City's self-confidence was battered by Barcelona but Paul Merson still foresees victory over Stoke City, yet it won't be a cricket score…

Manchester City host Stoke City on Saturday afternoon at the Etihad Stadium and manager Manuel Pellegrini will no doubt be looking for a response after coming unstuck on Tuesday evening in the Champions League when Barcelona left the North West with a 2-0 victory.

Due to the nature of the Barca win, a two-time league title winner with Arsenal, Paul Merson, believes that City's confidence will be rocked as a result.

The club are currently third in the Premier League landscape, three points behind pace-setting Chelsea but have a game in hand over all their rivals for the crown.

It is imperative they triumph versus the Potters so that they remain in the three or four horse race for the title, something Merson believes they will do 2-0, but will perhaps trot to a triumph rather than gallop to a rout.

'Man City need to win this game, but I don't think it will be a massive scoreline like we've seen from them a few times at home this season,' he explained on his Sky Sports column. 'The games are catching up on them and the loss to Barcelona will have knocked their confidence but I still think they will win the game though.'

City last played at home in the Premier League on February 3, when Chelsea put the very first blemish on an otherwise perfect Etihad Stadium slate (now 11 wins against one loss). The last time City lost back-to-back matches in the league was over four years ago, in December 2008.

Stoke meanwhile, have not prospered at City's ground, losing every single one of their five meetings when facing them away, with four of those encounters resulting in a 3-0 defeat. In their last 11 league games with City in general, Stoke have scored just five times and have failed to score in six of those matches.

Merson expects that to continue this weekend, with City to keep a clean sheet: 'Stoke are doing fine, but I expect City to do enough. It won't be 6-0 or 7-0 but I think they will recover from the disappointment of Tuesday night.'

image: © alfonso jimenez

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