Stoke City v Manchester City: Navas urges response from champions
Jesus Navas believes Manchester City must rediscover their best form at Stoke City on Wednesday in order to halt their recent dismal run.
An injury-time free-kick from James Milner salvaged a 1-1 draw for the defending champions against struggling Hull City on Saturday as their winless run in the league extended to four matches.
Manuel Pellegrini's team now have 14 games to overhaul leaders Chelsea, who extended their advantage to seven points by beating Aston Villa at the weekend.
Even allowing for their pedigree in coming from behind to win the title in 2012 and 2014, Spain winger Navas concedes City have little margin for error against a Stoke side that left the Etihad Stadium with a 1-0 win in August.
"Stoke are a team who are very well organised and very disciplined," Navas told City's official website. "If you are not focused and even momentarily lose concentration, they can hurt you - just as they did at the Etihad.
"We were disappointing that day but Stoke played very well and won a game they perhaps weren't expected to win. They are playing very well at the moment and we have to be at our best from start to finish."
If Navas and his team-mates are to begin turning their fortunes around it will mean securing a first Premier League win at the Britannia Stadium.
James Beattie scored the only goal as Stoke claimed a 1-0 win over opponents managed by their current boss Mark Hughes in January 2009, and the subsequent five meetings in Staffordshire have all ended in draws.
Stoke have only lost one of their last nine matches in all competitions and Hughes is relishing the meeting with Pellegrini's men.
"It won't be easy, Man City are a little bit of a wounded animal at the moment and have got a little bit of criticism for their home form," he told Stoke City Player. "We need to be ready for them, but we're playing very well at the moment so bring it on."
Manchester City have a clean bill of health ahead of the match, but Pellegrini has confirmed Yaya Toure and January signing Wilfried Bony will not be pressed straight back into action after playing in Ivory Coast's Africa Cup of Nations triumph.
"We don't want both of them to come back so quickly because it is impossible for them to play on Wednesday," the manager said.
"After that we have 10 days without a game so they have time to come back."
Toure scored on his final Premier League appearance before departing for international duty - a 3-2 win over Sunderland on New Year's Day that preceded City's current slump.
Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross (groin) remains sidelined but centre-back Philipp Wollscheid impressed in his absence at Newcastle, while Stephen Ireland will have a late fitness test on a hamstring complaint to determine whether he can face his former club.