Manchester City travel to Stoke City tonight looking to end a four-game win-less streak in the Premier League.
Manuel Pellegrini's side surprisingly dropped points at home to Hull at the weekend and need a win to resurrect their fading title hopes, starting against Mark Hughes' Stoke.
With Chelsea now seven points ahead at the top of the table, City cannot afford to drop many more points in the title run-in, but the Britannia Stadium hasn't been a happy hunting ground in recent years.
City haven't won in their last six visits to the Potteries, drawing five and losing once and were on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline when they hosted Hughes' team at the end of August.
Time is running out
Another defeat against their former manager wouldn't end City's title hopes just yet, but with just 13 games remaining after tonight's fixture, it's imperative they stop Chelsea pulling away further.
While City are battling it out against Stoke, Jose Mourinho's team will be aiming to extend their lead at the top of the table to ten points against an inconsistent Everton.
Ivorian duo still absent
City's recent poor run has coincided with the absence of midfield maestro Yaya Toure, who along with new £25million man Wilfried Bony, has been on international duty with the Ivory Coast.
The pair helped the Elephants lift the African Cup of Nations on Sunday night but Pellegrini has ruled them out of tonight's fixture.
In Toure's absence Fernando and Fernandinho have been paired in central midfield but the former was hauled off at half time against Hull and could find himself benched against Stoke.
Having scored the dramatic last gasp equaliser on Saturday, James Milner could be rewarded with a start, providing energy in the middle of the park.
David Silva and Samir Nasri will likely take up the wide positions, hoping to offer a creative spark that Pellegrini says has been missing of late.
Will Jovetic get a chance?
Up front Sergio Aguero will start again despite having failed to hit the net since his return from injury and will be desperate to end a six-game barren spell.
Should Pellegrini stick with a front two, he could find himself with a new partner up top with Stevan Jovetic preferred to Edin Dzeko.
The Montenegro striker had to make do with a place on the bench at the weekend but will be desperate to prove himself to Pellegrini having been omitted from City's Champions League squad to make space for Bony.
While Pellegrini bemoaned a lack of creativity at the weekend, he also needs to address his side's dodgy defence.
City haven't kept a clean sheet in seven league games and central defence has been a problem position all season.
Neither Eliaquim Mangala or Martin Demichelis have looked convincing during Vincent Kompany's multiple injury lay-offs, and the City skipper hasn't looked himself when he has been available.
Should Pellegrini shuffle his defensive pack Mangala could replace Demichelis in the centre, while Pablo Zabaleta has faced competition from Bacary Sagna for a starting birth.
While making ground on Chelsea is the primary focus for City, three points against Stoke would also bring up a nice milestone.
The Citizens currently have a grand total of 997 points in the Premier League era, and victory tonight would bring up the 1000 mark, making them just the ninth team to go beyond treble figures.
Predicted Starting XI
Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Mangala, Clichy; Nasri, Milner, Fernandinho, Silva; Aguero, Jovetic
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