Aston Villa make the 50 minute drive up the M6 to take on Mark Hughes and his Stoke City team at the Britannia stadium today.
If I am honest, I look at this fixture on paper and it has a bore-draw written all over it.
Stoke City’s players are well known for their boring, direct style, while Aston Villa’s may well give them a run for their money in those stakes based on performances so far this season.
Neither side has been tipped for relegation this season but a defeat today, combined with other results, could leave the losing side in a precarious position.
The Potters have picked up four draws and two victories in their last seven outings but haven’t been as strong as you would expect, conceding ten goals during that period.
Villa’s form almost mirrors that of Stoke, with Lambert’s Lions picking up two wins and three draws in the same period.
Six of the ten games between these two clubs have ended in draws, with both sides winning two each.
Captain Ron Vlaar is still missing due to a calf problem he picked up in the 3-2 victory over Southampton.
Stand-in captain Gabriel Agbonlahor is also missing due to suspension. However, both Chris Herd (facial injury) and Fabian Delph (suspension) are available for selection.
Gary Gardner will continue his bid to reached full fitness and is expected to be named among this afternoon’s substitutes.
There have been questions over the fitness of Christian Benteke so it is uncertain whether he will make way for Libor Kozak.
Mark Hughes will be without defensive duo Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth through injury.
On-loan midfielder Stephen Ireland can’t play as he is not allowed to play against his parent club.
Fans are being asked to allow extra time to get to the ground as the roads around the ground are expected to be extra busy with Christmas shoppers and those getting away for the holiday period.
Kick off: 3.00pm
Venue: Britannia Stadium
Tickets: Away allocation is sold out.
Referee: Craig Pawson
Last Meeting: Stoke City 1 Aston Villa 3
Stoke City 1 Aston Villa 1 – Stuart Young
Stoke City 1 Aston Villa 0 – Paul Merson
Stoke City 0 Aston Villa 2 – David Cameron