Stubborn Stoke held Man City to goalless draw on a frustrating evening at the Etihad Stadium. City, who have been in such commanding form of late, tried desperately to spark a performance but could not find a way through Mark Hughes’ committed and well organised side. Substitute David Silva came inches from scoring the winner after 70 minutes only to see his shot slide agonisingly wide, and that was the closest City came to a winner. Despite a surge of late pressure City could not break the deadlock, and stay 10 games unbeaten in all competitions and in third place in the Premier League, now level on points with Tottenham.
What happened? Willy Caballero was the first keeper to be tested, the Argentinian down sharply to save Mame Biram Diouf’s bundled attempt. City were enjoying the lion’s share of possession but despite that, the Blues needed a perfectly timed interception from Bacary Sagna to clear following good work from Ramadan Sohbi down the left. City hit back through Aguero’s deflected shot, although that drifted just wide, before Aleks Kolarov smashed in a free-kick that Lee Grant parried at his near post. Jesus Navas’s pace was hurting Stoke down the right and three times he sent in dangerous crosses that evaded everyone. Just before the break Kevin De Bruyne was tantalisingly close to Nicolas Otamendi’s through ball, but it just escaped him – the story of City’s half. The second half continued in a similar vein to the first, and Otamendi had to produce a superb sliding tackle to deny Saido Berahino. Finally the temperature of the game began to rise, and the Etihad Stadium roared when David Silva was introduced just before the hour, with Navas making way. The Spanish maestro was involved in the move shortly after that culminated in Sane blazing over with his right foot. Toure was next to curl an effort over and with twenty minutes to go, it was beginning to feel like ‘one of those nights’ for City. That feeling was compounded when Silva, after a slick give and go with Fernandinho, dragged his shot fractionally wide of the post. Next to have a go was Otamendi’s whose header from Silva’s corner flicked onto the top of the net, before Aguero fired just wide and Sane came painfully close to a scoring touch late on. But it was not to be.
What it means City stay in third place in the Premier League, but are now level on 56 points with Tottenham, and four ahead of Liverpool. Chelsea are 10 points clear at the top.
What’s next? City travel to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup quarter-finals in the early kick-off (12.15pm) on Saturday. The games continue to come thick and fast after that with the Champions League last 16 second leg at Monaco next Wednesday (7.45pm) before the home game against Liverpool on Sunday 19 March (4pm).
Manchester City (0): Caballero, Sagna, Kolarov, Otamendi, Clichy, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Yaya Touré (Iheanacho 75), Navas (Silva 57), Sané, Agüero
Stoke City (0): Stoke: Grant; Bardsley, Shawcross, M. Indi, Pieters; Diouf (Afellay 68), Cameron, Allen (Imbula 83), Ramadan; Berahino (Whelan 78), Walters