When Patrick Vieira came on for the last 18 minutes against Stoke on Saturday, it was a reminder of what he missed when he left English football. For all the good that he experienced with Juventus and Inter Milan during five years in Serie A, it was this kind of competitive and combative action the Manchester City midfielder craved. "A lot of my game is based on the physical aspect," he said. "In Italy it was difficult and it was different. That is why I am pleased to come back. I had a few tough moments against Bolton [last week], so I knew what it was going to be like. It is part of the English game and I enjoy it."
Vieira, 34, will also enjoy a first experience at the Britannia Stadium tonight when Stoke host City in the Premier League, following their weekend 1-1 FA Cup fifth round draw. "There are no teams like that in Italy," added Vieira, who played at Stoke's old Victoria Ground with Arsenal in 1996. "But Stoke play with quality. They beat Arsenal and they frustrate a lot of teams. All credit to them." Vieira conceded it was difficult to deal with Stoke's direct approach and Rory Delap's famous long throw. It led to Ricardo Fuller's equaliser at Eastlands and will no doubt be part of their strategy again.
Vieira, though, has a plan for the victory that would take City into fourth place in the league. "We need to keep the ball on the floor and move it really quickly; play one-twos. That is the best way to beat this team," he said. Shaun Wright-Phillips could be the key to that if the winger recovers from injury and repeats Saturday's impressive performance. Frustratingly, Wright-Phillips has not shown it consistently enough to be a first-choice under Mancini, who said: "If he played like that, he would play often."
@Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Stoke v Manchester City, 11.45pm, Showsports 1