A stuttering Aston Villa side welcome Stoke City when the Premier League resumes on the weekend when Tim Sherwood’s Villains would finally look to put an end to their torrid run of results since the narrow opening day win against Bournemouth. Villa go into this game off the back of 5 losses in their last six encounters barring a solitary point against a hapless Sunderland at home a few weeks back. Having to face the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City in the upcoming weeks, manager Tim Sherwood should be looking at a home win against Stoke to kick on and make a fresh start in the league.
After a rather disappointing start to the league that involved bedding in the raft of new signings that could change the whole playing style at the Britannia stadium, Mark Hughes’ Stoke City have finally picked up their first win of the campaign against a travelling Bournemouth side. With just 6 points on board from 7 games and the amount of potential the Potters possess going forward, a win at Villa Park should provide the much needed spark to capitalize on, in the next few fixtures coming up against the likes of Swansea, Watford and Newcastle, where momentum could play a huge role.
For Villa, defender Adama Traore could make a return to the squad on Saturday and forward Gabby Agbonlahor is also pushing hard to make a comeback from injury in time to start, although the game could have come too soon for him.
Aston Villa possible starting lineup: Guzan; Amavi, Clark, Richards, Hutton; Gueye, Sanchez, Westwood; Grealish, Gestede, Traore
The star man Xherdan Shaqiri will be undergoing a late fitness test ahead of the game on Saturday Philipp Wollscheid has impressed lately and he could retain his place at the back at the expense of a recovering Marc Wilson.
Stoke City possible starting lineup: Butland; Pieters, Wollscheid, Cameron, Johnson; Adam, Whelan; Arnautovic, Bojan, Walters; Diouf
- Aston Villa have won just two of their last 11 Premier League meetings with Stoke (D5 L4).
- Stoke have averaged 1.43 points per game in the PL away at Villa Park. Only away at West Brom have they won more PL points, 2.5 (minimum 5 games).
- The Villans have scored exactly one goal in each of their last four PL clashes with Stoke and have netted more than once in just one of their last 12 top-tier games against the Potters.
Key Men Comparison
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) v Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke City)
The youngster who has opted to play for England over Ireland has been the shining light of Sherwood’s campaign so much so that the manager is now in a position to rely on the 20-year old to deliver week-in week-out for Villa to create goals, which they have done, this season, to a fair extent. Following a man-of-the-match performance against bitter rivals Birmingham City, the gaffer was full of praise for the promising youngster when he said,
“I was proud how we went about it, we tried to play two different ways. In the first half we wanted to go very direct and in the second half to get between the lines and they couldn’t cope when Jack Grealish got between the lines,”
Although there’s still a long way to go, much of what happens this campaign for Villa could be influenced by the 20-year old, including the game on Saturday.
Forward Mame Biram Diouf has been hot and cold for Stoke City in that he’s scored 3 goals in 6 appearances with a staggering 100% shots on target yet he’s been in and out of the side that Hughes has been tinkering with in these opening weeks. With a winning goal last weekend, things could just finally click for the 27-year old which could prove vitally important for a team struggling to score enough.
Rudy Gestede versus the new age Stoke. The visitors should edge it, in my opinion.
Aston Villa 1-2 Stoke City