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Manchester City vs. Stoke City (Kick-off 15.00 GMT, Jan. 1st)

Manchester City host the Premier League’s meanest defense on New Year’s Day as they look to gather more momentum to their title charge after a closely fought 4-3 win away against Norwich City at Carrow Road. The Citizens were made to put every drop of sweat from their brow to work as a resilient Norwich City under manager Chris Hughton that had taken all three points at home against league leaders Manchester United put City to the sword in the last quarter of the game after City had gone down to 10 men after Samir Nasri got himself sent off for a head butt.

Manager Roberto Mancini will, however, be happy that his strike force is firing on all cylinders once again after Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko scored four goals between them to set up an intriguing end to 2012 for the cash rich club from Manchester. Although Dzeko will not be given the hat-trick for his third goal, he will be pleased at making an impact for his side after getting a rare start. Moreover, Aguero, who had been missing in matches for most of the year, was also in his usual flamboyant best as he delicately chipped the Norwich goalkeeper to score the team’s third goal, just after going down to 10 men.

But one thing that will definitely bother the Italian manager is the fact that City is leaking goals like there is no tomorrow. After a mistake from Joe Hart handed Sunderland a victory this Boxing Day, City’s defense was at sixes and sevens as Norwich, with star forward Grant Holt still missing, managing to score three past what was a resolute defense of the champions. With Vincent Kompany and Nemanja Nastasic starting in defense for the Citizens, it should have been one of the best defense in the world.

But the fact that it is leaking goals and that they won the title on the last day of last season on goal difference should keep Mancini worried enough to splash the cash in the transfer market for a new defender. Stoke, on the other hand, will have defenders Geoff Cameron and Ryan Shawcross back in defense after the pair had to sit out of their thrilling 3-3 draw at home against Southampton and with the pair back in defense, City will have to work a lot harder to break down the resolute team on

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