At the end of last season the more optimistic Villa fans among us were hoping that as the 2014/15 season approached we’d be in the hands of a free-spending new owner. Here we are now, though, and unfortunately nothing has changed. Lerner’s stuck with us for now – are Villa going to be as unpredictable as the elusive owner this season?
Third time lucky for Lambert?
“The last few years have not been acceptable. We have to try to get up there, there’s no two ways about it.
“These players are not young anymore. They’ve had two years there. They’re not young anymore. You can’t keep going for that excuse. They have to stand up and take it now.
“You can only get away with that for so long. Grealish, yeah, he’s young but the rest, they’re men now.”
Lambert on Vlaar
“We have had little chats here and there, but I think his main concern was getting back after the World Cup, getting fit and hopefully being ready for Saturday.
“That is where he has been. I have a good rapport with Ron, so I don’t have any problem with that whatsoever.
“I’m not sure there is loyalty in football any more. So we’ll have to wait and see.”
23rd August 2008 Stoke 3 Aston Villa 2
An early game in the season saw Stoke host Villa in their first season in the Premier League. Goals from Carew and Laursen couldn’t prevent a disappointing loss.
Stoke – Last five matches at home: W 4, L 1
Villa – Last five matches away: L 5
Villa have only won once in the last five visits to the Britannia.
One to Watch
Bojan Krkic – hasn’t set the world alight at previous clubs though the ex-Barcelona forward has impressed in pre-season and comes with a decent CV. An interesting signing and one that could prove a clever gamble for Hughes.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
After last season, Stoke should not be underestimated. Mark Hughes’ mission to change the footballing identity of the team seems to have succeeded, but he also managed to retain their traditionally strong home form (they had the best home record outside of the top four last season).
Lowton’s wonder goal against them in Lambert’s first season took all the headlines but it was also the only time we’ve won there in the Premier League era.
Some fairly shrewd business has taken place on Stoke’s part, including ex-‘Villan’s Sidwell and Bardsley on free transfers as well as ex-Hannover striker Mame Diouf. According to local press, home tickets have sold out, and a tough atmosphere will undoubtedly contribute to a difficult start to Lambert’s third season in charge.
What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide
Rightly or wrongly it seemed like the so-called ‘bomb squad’ would never feature for Villa again, but due to some puzzling back-tracking from Lambert, they’re back, and hopefully, will have a point to prove. To their credit, Hutton and Bent have played well in pre-season, and will surely be in the reckoning for the first line-up of the season. It would be great to see some performances from the returning squad members that justify their reintegration. A similar start to last season when we shocked Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates would be most welcome. It would also be nice to see a quick camera shot of a smiling Carlos Sanchez watching from the stands…
Why Villa have got this game in the bag
All of a sudden Villa seem to have a bit of depth in the squad, and it’s difficult to predict who will start, which might work to our advantage. There’s an element of doom and gloom in the media predictions regarding our new campaign but with the addition of Carlos Sanchez to sure things up in midfield, the claret and blue faithful will be treading a little more optimistically now.
Ideally Roy Keane’s guidance will have instilled a bit more toughness into the Villa players, the kind that is needed away to Stoke. Whether or not you agree with recent transfer activity and the surprising return of certain players, there’s probably more creativity within the ranks.
Given Villa’s very tough run of fixtures in September, a good result away at Stoke would be a terrific start to the season and calm the more cynical of the Villa faithful. UTV.
Follow Lewis on Twitter – @rymondfootball