City pose title threat - Pulis
Stoke boss Tony Pulis rates Manchester City's performance at Fulham last weekend as among the best he has seen in the Barclays Premier League and he feels the Eastlands outfit are shaping up as real title contenders under Roberto Mancini.
City swept the Cottagers aside 4-1 on Sunday to move up to fourth in a congested table, three points behind leaders Chelsea and second-placed Manchester United.
The display certainly impressed Pulis, who expects to see Mancini's expensively-assembled side challenging for top spot right through to the end of the season.
"I didn't go, but I watched it and (Stoke assistant manager) Dave Kemp went to the game," Pulis said.
"I've seen them twice this year and they are just starting to gel together. I thought the performance at Fulham - I watched the tape again on Wednesday night - was absolutely first-class.
"They were very good, as good a Premier League performance as I've seen to be honest, especially away from home.
"They have obviously spent a hell of a lot of money and you need to do that if you want to win the championship - all the other clubs that have won it have spent massive money and Manchester City are only doing what the others have done.
"They get criticised at times for the amount of money they spend, but that is the market, the going rate. If they want to do it, they have to spend it and that is what they have gone out and done.
"I think they have got as good a chance as anybody at the top.
"There are five or six teams there that you can look at and say they have an outstanding chance, and I think Manchester City are just starting to recognise that they have got that chance."
Following their demolition job in London, City travel to the Potteries tomorrow to take on a Stoke team who have won six of their last eight home games in all competitions and can always count on the vociferous support of their fans.
"It will be a tough game, but 11 against 11 with 28,000 people screaming behind us - it will give us a great chance on Saturday," Pulis said.
"The more you talk about Manchester City, the more you get worried and you lose focus on yourselves.
"It is a home game and we have to make sure we are right and that what we do is for the benefit of our team."
Pulis' focus on Stoke above all other clubs appears beyond question.
The 52-year-old's achievement over the last few years in getting the Potters promoted to the top flight and established there as a force to be reckoned with has won him plenty of plaudits.
Asked if coming up against sides like City ever gets him thinking about managing a bigger club in the future Pulis turns instead to his ongoing project at the Britannia Stadium.
"I'm more than happy here," he said. "I've got a fantastic chairman (Peter Coates) and I'm very close with the family at this football club.
"We've got good players and we are still a long way away from what we want to achieve, but we'll do it slowly and we'll do it in our own way.
"We'll do it in a way so when I do walk away, I can turn around and be very proud of what I've achieved.
"You don't do that in a short space of time - it takes a lot of time, and a lot of effort and commitment.
"Peter has backed me and been very good to me, and I've enjoyed it, but there is still a long way to go and a lot of hard work to be done."
Meanwhile, Stoke have confirmed young midfielder Matthew Lund has joined npower League Two side Hereford on a month's loan.