Stoke City: It's a tough task, but champs are not invincible, says goal hero Jerome
MAN-of-the-moment Cameron Jerome admits Manchester City away is a daunting mission... but maybe not as daunting as it once was.
Jerome, fresh from his spectacular late equaliser against Southampton on Saturday, has drawn hope from Manchester City's shaky defence of their Premier League title.
Stoke could also draw comfort from seeing City being beaten in a league game at the Etihad Stadium for the first time in nearly two years following their Manchester derby defeat last month.
And then there was struggling Reading going perilously close to a goalless draw before being beaten by Gareth Barry's late and controversial header in City's last home game.
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"I don't think Manchester City have quite clicked into top gear yet, but we still have to respect them," said Jerome.
"They are the champions and have some world class players throughout their squad.
"But I don't think they have found their feet yet. Last season they were rolling teams over, but this year they look like you can get at them a bit more.
"The pressure is on them to win because we are the underdogs, so we'll just go there and try to enjoy it and play our game."
Jerome is hoping to see the kind of form which sends Stoke to Manchester unbeaten in their last 10 games – and the kind of form when the two teams met earlier in the season.
"We are showing great resilience at the minute," said the former Cardiff City and Birmingham City striker.
"We held them to a 1-1 draw here earlier in the season, but it's going to be a little more difficult at the Etihad.
We'll see. We have a good fighting spirit at the moment and we are on a great unbeaten run.
"I think people are also starting to show us a little bit more respect."
Stoke go into today's 3pm kick-off in eighth spot and with their wider-eyed fans dreaming of Europa League football once again.
But Jerome strikes a note of caution by commenting: "I don't know about the top seven and Europe. I would say the positions at the minute are a little bit false because we are only half way through. The true positions will be sorted out towards the end of the season.
"We are doing well, we are aware of that. But we have to keep ourselves grounded. That's what we are about.
"There are no egos or big time Charlies here. We treat each other and every opponent with respect."
Jerome himself is full of festive spirit after stepping off the bench on Saturday and salvaging Stoke's 17-match unbeaten home run in the league with that terrific 90th-minute strike to clinch a 3-3 draw with the Saints.
"There are negatives and positives that you can take out of it," said a philosophical Jerome.
"The negatives are being 3-1 down at half-time and conceding sloppy goals. We deserved to be 3-1 down. We didn't play well at all. I don't know whether it was tiredness or sloppiness or whatever.
"The positives are showing our fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude.
"Five more minutes and we would probably have got the fourth because they were hanging on."