- Reuters / Phil Noble
Manchester City will host Stoke City at the Etihad on New Year's Day as Manchester looks to close the gap on Manchester United at the top of the table.
For Manchester City and manager Roberto Mancini, their first game in the new year might be one of the more important of the year, given that their crosstown rival Manchester United has opened up a 7-point lead and they seem to rarely forfeit points.
Manchester City is also feeling the pressure from third place contender Chelsea who has been in top form, winning their last four matches as Rafa Benitez seems now to have a good grasp on his club.
Manchester City will have to overcome the absence of forward Samir Nasri for their New Year's Day tie after the French international decided not to appeal his 3-day ban after he was shown a red card against Norwich City.
Also, striker Mario Balotelli is still recovering from illness while defenders Aleksandar Kolarov, Maicon and Micah Richards will be watching the match from the sidelines. Midfielder Jack Rodwell will also be unavailable.
For Stoke and manager Tony Pulis, they will be looking to come away with points at the Etihad, which is never an easy thing to do.
To make their task a bit easier will be the fact that midfielder Steven Nzonzi will be available after the club appealed his red card that he received in Saturday's 3-3 draw with Southampton.
Captain Ryan Shawcross and full-back Geoff Cameron are likely to feature after the pair completed their respective 1-match bans. Also defenders Robert Huth and Andy Wilkinson are rumored to be ready after the pair collided, which saw Wilkinson forced off with a concussion.
However, if Pulis feels that his club needs a spark, he could recall midfielder Charlie Adam to the starting line-up for the first time since the passing of his father.
Kick-off for the match is at 10:00 a.m. ET and can be watched online here.