Pellegrini unfazed by expectation
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has no doubt his team can handle the pressure of expectation.
City have made a confident start to their Barclays Premier League title defence with back-to-back victories.
Monday's 3-1 win over last season's runners-up Liverpool was a particularly assured performance and emphasised their strength in depth.
Stevan Jovetic, who missed most of last season through injury, struck twice while star striker Sergio Aguero came off the bench to score for a second successive game.
New signings, particularly midfielder Fernando, have enhanced City's squad but none of this is news to Pellegrini, who was confident from the outset of his squad's power.
The Chilean said: "That expectation does not depend on one game against Liverpool - it depends always.
"We are a strong team, the same as five or six other clubs in England. We don't have a problem with that expectation. We need to win and we will try to win always."
Despite that confidence, Pellegrini is taking nothing for granted as former City boss Mark Hughes brings his Stoke side to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
City have a superb home record against the Potters having won the last seven encounters. Stoke have not won in the league at City since a second-tier match in 1997, and have not won in the top flight since 1980.
Stoke are also still looking for their first league victory this season but, for Pellegrini, that counts for nothing.
He said: "Of course I am absolutely sure we are going to have a lot of problems against a difficult team like Stoke.
"Last year, in our best moment, we won just 1-0 at home.
"In the first two games they have just one draw but I am sure they are going to come here to try and do a tough game, and we need to play very well if we are to win."
Aguero is fit despite reports of an injury after pictures emerged of him being on the receiving end of a tough tackle in training.
Pellegrini has been managing the Argentinian's return to action this term after numerous injuries last season and at the World Cup, and is still considering him to be in 'pre-season'.
Pellegrini is yet to determine whether he is ready to start but new signing Eliaquim Mangala, who has lacked match-fitness since his £32million arrival from Porto, has again been ruled out.
Frank Lampard, on loan from sister club New York City, is also not in contention for similar reasons.
Pellegrini said: "Mangala is not in the squad. Kun is in the squad list, we will see how many minutes he can play.
"Frank is not in the squad list but we will see which is the best squad to start considering some players need minutes also. Just Alvaro Negredo is injured, all the rest of the squad are fit."
Meanwhile, midfielder Charlie Adam does not believe the financial gulf between the two clubs means Stoke cannot compete at the Etihad Stadium.
Adam said: "I think them and Chelsea are the ones competing for the league and Liverpool are there as well as they have brought in a number of players.
"They have great quality but if we are ready and 'at it' we can give ourselves a great chance.
"Clubs are buying players for £60million so money does talk and there is a massive gulf in the Premier League but it is men against men and if we apply ourselves right and are solid and disciplined then we will have a chance.
"They have an array of talent but at the end of the day they might have an off-day and we can cause an upset.
"We need to go and try to have a go at them but be sensible as they are one of the best teams in Europe, the champions of England, and although it will be tough we know what we need to do.
"We have been in this Premier League for six years now and we have done okay so we will keep going the way we are.
"I think we have added the right number of players and the right quality this year and not spent much money and the Bosmans (free transfers) we have brought in have been good.
"You can only improve and we have done that on where we were last season."
On-loan Chelsea winger Victor Moses is likely to start on the bench despite impressing on debut in midweek.
The Nigeria international featured significantly against Portsmouth but is not yet fit enough to play 90 minutes.
Utility player Geoff Cameron is out with a thigh problem sustained in the cup game, but defender Phil Bardsley and Bojan Krkic could be fit after being rested in midweek.