PREVIEW: Stoke City – home

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Aston Villa return home to Villa Park this afternoon as they host Stoke City. Dean Smith will be looking to continue the recent good form and will feel aggrieved over last Friday’s last disappointment at The Hawthorns.

Villa are unbeaten in 6 Championship games, scoring 19 goals in the process. The likes of Anwar El Ghazi and Tammy Abraham will be looking to continue their scoring record against a Stoke side that have improved recently following a similarly difficult start to the season.

Villa sit 6th in the table based on home results with 19 points from 30 and only one defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

With recent form being so good, Villa will aim to continue in their attempts to push up the table into the playoffs and possibly the automatic spots. Although the form of other teams at the top mean that Villa need to stay in touch with as many points as possible.

THE OPPOSITION
Stoke are unbeaten in eight, drawing their last three away games. A busy window and the appointment of Gary Rowett during the summer meant Stoke were installed as early favourites to return back to the Premier League at the first attempt. A poor star saw them slump towards the bottom of the league but having stick with Rowett, they have indoubtedly improved slowly but surely.
Stoke have picked up 12 points away from the Britannia and sit 12th based on the away table statistics.

Stoke will be stubborn and will remain organised but will surely be tested by Villa’s attacking threat.

Stoke have had 4.29 shots on target per game which is the same as Villa (although under Smith the figures are much higher) and have had one shot per game more than Villa.

ONE TO WATCH

My one to watch in this game is Tom Ince. He has been Stoke’s most efficient player in regards to goals to minutes played and he is capable of being as creative as he is at finishing despite only one assist so far.

TEAM NEWS
Jack Grealish, Henri Lansbury, Neil Taylor, Birkir Bjarnason, James Bree and Mile Jedinak are all out, and winger Albert Adomah remains a doubt despite beginning training again this week following an ankle injury.

HEAD TO HEAD
Today’s meeting will be the 116th meeting in all competitions between the two sides. Villa lead the head to head battle with 51 wins. Stoke have won 34 with 30 games ending in draws.

Stoke have been the form team in recent times having won 5 of the last 6 meetings.

The first-ever meeting between the two sides took place in 1888 with Villa wing 5-1. In fact a year later and Villa won 6-1 thanks to a hat trick from Batty Garvey!

7-1 wold be nice but can see it being a lot tighter than that!

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
With both Grealish and Adomah out I think Anwar El Ghazi may play in the number 10 role and Kodjia will come in too.

Predicted XI: Nyland; Elmohamady, Chester, Tuanzebe, Hutton; McGinn, Hourihane; Bolasie, El-Ghazi; Kodjia; Abraham.

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