Aston Villa vs Stoke City – the preview

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Villa’s home form has long been an obstacle to progress but the team now has the chance to show that the tide is, finally, turning.

Having secured back to back home wins for the first time in his managerial reign at Aston Villa following last weekend’s “monumental” victory over Chelsea, Lambert will be hoping to see a Villa team secure three wins on the bounce for the first time since 2007 as Villa meet Stoke for the hundredth time.

A bumper crowd generating as much noise this weekend as last would no doubt be appreciated by Lambert and his Lions, especially as this Sunday is the club’s annual fundraising day for Acorns.

Stoke’s away record is poor to say the least, with only one win on the road this season, so it seems like a good time for the Villans, who will be brimming with confidence, to continue fighting their way up the table. There is no doubt that an assured Benteke in particular could cause Stoke’s back four real problems. It might, however, be worthwhile putting a few quid on Weimann to score as he seems to enjoy finding the net on Acorns Day, having scored his dramatic, if comedic, winner against Fulham in 2012 and netting again in the crucial 3-2 win over Queen’s Park Rangers last season.

Although trips to Villa Park rarely give the Potters real reason to celebrate, the last three meetings between the sides at Villa Park have ended in draws and the Potters are unbeaten in three games.

Recent form:

Aston Villa: LDLWW
Stoke City: DLWDW

Team news:

Karim El Ahmadi has been deemed fit despite the shin injury sustained against Chelsea.

Gabby Agbonlahor has shaken off the calf injury that led to his substitution last weekend.

Ryan Bertrand will be available for selection again and pushing for a recall having been ineligible to play against his parent club last weekend. Many feel Joe Bennett’s solid performance against the league leaders will see him get the nod ahead of Bertrand.

Possible line-up:

Guzan
Bacuna      Baker      Vlaar      Bennett
El Ahmadi      Delph      Westwood
Weimann      Benteke      Agbonlahor

The opposition:

Mark Hughes’ hard work seems to be finally paying off as the Potters are playing something resembling football these days and have lost just one of their last six games, which means they sit level on points with the Villans and seem safe from the threat of relegation. Indeed, Hughes has called on his players to aim to finish higher than eleventh in the Premier League for the first time ever and appears to be targeting forty-seven points.

Although Hughes may profess to be confident of continuing the good run this weekend, he will be all too aware of his players’ failings away from home.

Hughes may be without Pieters due to injury.

Adam and Walters are both suspended while Assaidi, on loan from Liverpool, could return to action.
Huth is out for the remainder of the season.

Ireland is ineligible due to a clause in his contract.

Match information:

Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Venue: Villa Park
Kick-off: 4p.m.
Tickets: Available priced from £23 – £45 for adults
Last meeting: December 2013 at the Britannia Stadium – Stoke 2 – Aston Villa 1

Predictions:

2-1 – Mark Lawrenson
2-1 – Jamie Redknapp
1-1 – AnneMc

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