James Milner says it’s time to end City’s long winless Premier League run away to Stoke on Wednesday evening.
The Blues haven’t won at the Britannia Stadium in the league for 16 years and while the England midfielder accepts it’s not the easiest of venues to visit, a victory is imperative against Mark Hughes’ side.
“I’m not sure anyone looks forward to going to Stoke for a number of reasons,” said Milner.
“Their style of football has changed more recently, but the atmosphere the home fans create can intimidate some teams and it always seems to be blustery with the wind swirling around when we play there.
“As a player, you always want to play in great atmospheres and I enjoy it whether the crowd is with us or against us – it doesn’t bother me a bit. If the home fans are quiet, it means we’re doing well and that’s why we need to start the game strongly.
So when you add everything together, I think that’s why going to the Britannia Stadium can be difficult. I know we haven’t won there since 1999 and it’s about time we ended that run
With the champions failing to win any of their last five games, there is a danger that the gap at the top will become too big, though Milner believes the Blues’ form on their travels – the best in the Premier League – could be an advantage against the Potters.
“When we play away from home it suits us better because teams come out and attack us more than they do at the Etihad where most defend in numbers,” he said.
“Our form at home and away is a bit of flip around from last season where we started badly on the road but won most of our home games.
We need to continue our good away form because that will take the pressure off us at home where we’ve been struggling a bit of late
“We need something to get us going and it was disappointing not to follow up a good performance at Chelsea with a good result against Hull, but every season you have peaks and troughs and we just need to make sure we come out of this dip pretty quickly and kick-start the final portion of the season and go on a good run.”
After scoring his first league goal of the campaign, Milner revealed it’s not easy to get a look in with so many talented dead-ball specialists –but he wasn’t going to let the opportunity against the Tigers pass by on this occasion.
“Obviously there’s a pretty big queue to take free-kicks in this team but that was a position I like taking free-kicks from – on the right-hand side - and I wanted to take it. Sergio wanted it, too but I took it and luckily it went in – it was just disappointing there wasn’t enough time to go on and win the game.”
Milner added that he’s been impressed by Stoke’s Bojan Krkic this season and that the talented Spaniard will be a big loss to the hosts.
“I was interested to see how he went on this season,” he said. “Coming from such a big club to the Premier League isn’t easy because this is one of the hardest leagues to play in but he’s adapted to his new surroundings well and it’s good to see him progressing. It’s a shame for Stoke that he’s picked up such a bad injury when he’d become so integral to their team. We can't worry about who is playing and who isn't, though - we just need to go there and come home with three points.”