Toure reveals plan to combat Stoke

City entertain Tony Pulis' outfit knowing they only need a point to secure top spot on Christmas Day for the first time since 1929. Although they emerged victorious in May's FA Cup final meeting between the teams at Wembley, plus the Barclays Premier League encounter three days later, Roberto Mancini has not tended to find Stoke particularly easy to overcome.

But Toure thinks they have found a new method of control, and the Ivorian said: "We all know about Stoke. They will be even more motivated because we beat them in the FA Cup final, so we are going to take it really seriously. But we have found a way to deal with them. I am just not going to say what it is."

He added: "They have a great manager and great players. They are strong in the air and we have a lot of respect for them."

Toure made an unexpected return to the City line-up for Sunday's victory over former club Arsenal, although he is by no means certain to keep his place given the additional bombardment expected from Stoke.

The 30-year-old could do with as many opportunities to impress as possible given he will soon depart with brother Yaya for an African Nations Cup campaign that will begin against Sudan in Malabo on January 22.

"It is always really difficult for us in this period," said Toure. "You need to stay for your club but at the same time, you have to think about the national team. It is hard for everybody."

Mancini has already claimed that if City are still top by the time Toure and his brother return in February, their chances of winning the title are high. It is not an assessment the former Gunners star disagrees with.

"Why not?" he said. "I will be in contact all the time and watch the games on TV.

"We know there are some fantastic players who will be doing their best. I am sure we will still be at the top."

Source: PA

Source: PA