Date: 12th March 2018 at 8:14am
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Erik Pieters and Jack Butland have both been in front of the media ahead of tonight’s clash between Stoke City and Manchester City and whilst knowing it’ll be an incredibly tough affair, in many ways the pressure is off as we face Pep Guardiola’s side so it’s a challenge we should be relishing and not fearing.

Beginning with Dutch international Pieters, that was his exact message as pretty much everyone has dismissed our chances of getting a result given their incredibly form in the Premier League this year.

Speaking to the Official Website in his own interview, Pieters explained.

‘There is no bigger test, possibly in world football, than Manchester City at this moment in time. They are a great team with a great manager and there is a reason why they are top of the table, so far ahead of Manchester United and Liverpool. It is a great test for us, but it is a game we are looking forward to and one which we want to show what we can do.’

He went on to add.

‘They are not unbeatable, but we understand that it is going to be incredibly difficult. We have to work together, as a group, and do everything that the manager is asking of us. We are at home, with the crowd behind us, in front of the television cameras, so there will be a lot of excitement.’

Asked about what Stoke had to do to take a result, he ended by saying.

‘Of course, on the pitch, we have got to be as solid as we have ever been and then if we get any opportunities we simply have to take them. We need to be strong and more importantly every guy on the pitch from our point of view has to win our own personal challenges – if we do that, then who knows. Let`s not forget what Wigan Athletic did a few weeks ago.’

As for England stopper Butland, he was also incredibly positive ahead of the game whilst not downplaying how tough a game it would be for us.

‘It is going to be a tough challenge, but we have had a little bit longer than usual to prepare for it which is hopefully going to be positive for us. Despite the hammering we were dealt with at the Etihad, it was a challenge. I enjoy coming up against the top teams and the challenge of trying to stop them. We have experienced Manchester City`s threat first hand already this season as have most teams also in the Premier League. They are an incredible side.’

With Stoke only losing once – Bournemouth – since Paul Lambert took charge, Butland also felt we could take the positives from that but clearly our own performances could improve further and the players are well aware of that.

‘I think our performances lately have been a lot better. We are giving ourselves better opportunities to win games. We have stayed in games when perhaps our performances haven`t quite been up to scratch and dug out results that we have really needed. There is never a good time to play Man City, especially given the form they are in. But, they have had quite a busy schedule themselves. We must make sure the bet365 is rocking on Monday night and make it as difficult as we can for them if there is any complacency to take advantage of.’

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