Stoke City v Aston Villa Preview 2016
Just when you think there’s a glimmer of hope, Villa always manage to deliver the gut punch.
In more optimistic times, this might have looked like a ‘winnable’ fixture in the annual relegation run-in, but given our hopelessness, it’s another ominous looking match.
Still, Stoke aren’t quite as solid as they’d like to be at home, and there’s always the risk of complacency from the Potters’s perspective..
Will Villa finally show the “commitment” Garde has called for?
Villa have scored just 20 goals this season – the lowest in the division
Garde on Player Effort
“I don’t see the commitment from all the players every day in training sessions.
“If I had the choice of other players I would like to select, I would like to – but I don’t have the possibility.
“Sometimes it’s about fighting and commitment. It’s the first thing professional players should have on the pitch. How can you be confident if you’re not fighting?”
Bojan on Villa
“It is true Aston Villa haven’t got the results they will have expected and it’s been an incredibly difficult season for such an historic club.
“We faced a very demanding match when we played against them at Villa Park earlier this season – it wasn’t an easy match at all – so we expect the exact same when they come to our place on Saturday.
“Despite Villa not being in the best situation, I am sure they will come here wanting to perform well and wanting to take home the three points, so it is important that we play to our top levels and with good intentions.”
16th Aug 2014 Stoke 0 Aston Villa 1
Having welcomed back players who were previously left in the cold, Lambert oversaw a opening day victory at the Britannia thanks to a Weimann goal.
Stoke – Last five matches at home: W 2, D 1, L 2
Villa – Last five matches away: D 2, L 3
Villa have won just two of the last five matches at the Britannia Park.
One to Watch
Giannelli Imbula – The £18 million January signing is a symbol of how the Premier League landscape has changed.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
When the team you support have become the footballing equivalent of Murphy’s Law, the statistics usually make grim reading.
Stoke tend to do well at home and have defeated the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United at the Britannia this season.
With four wins in the last five Premier League meetings, Stoke have been victorious against Villa far too often recently. With 36 points, Stoke’s joint-highest tally at this stage,(matching last season) you’d be forgiven for thinking that Mark Hughes’ 10th placed side are likely to condemn Villa to another depressing defeat.
You’re probably fed up with hearing how Villa are winless in 12 away games, so here’s another soul-destroying stat – no team with as many points as Villa at this stage (16 points from 26 matches) have finished the season above last place.
Garde has the thankless task of managing the division’s lowest goal-scorers (Villa have scored just 20) and it looks like it could be an easy game for Stoke’s defenders. We’ve scored with a mere 10% of our attempts on goal, and YET again, it’s the worst record in the division.
“How can you be confident if you’re not fighting?” – Garde on player attitudes
What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide
Villa seemed to let even the rarest of goal-scorers in Liverpool’s XI find the net in the 6-0 drubbing. When else would you see Kolo Toure score?
Still, that’s in the past now, and in a bizarre way Lescott’s ill-timed car tweet actually distracted the footballing world from just how useless Villa were against Klopp’s side.
Garde claims he trusted Lescott’s explanation, and he seems to have faith in the defender, but there could be other casualties as a result of the poor showing at Villa Park.
A rare highlight of the defeat was the appearance Jordan Lyden who at least made an effort after his late substitution.
If Garde is keen to change the side around, perhaps we’ll see some more academy players feature – hopefully they give a lesson to the senior players in terms of performance levels.
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
The last time we played Stoke was at the start of our short-lived, defensively sound period at the start of Lambert’s final season.
There was of course the Lowton game too, so our last three games at the Britannia have seen two wins. In terms of Villa’s post-2010 history that’s nothing short of a miracle.
Clearly Stoke are ambitious, the Imbula signing showed that, but while they seem to have got comfortable in the top half of the table, they do have off days. Their last home game saw a 3-0 thrashing against Everton.
They won their last game away at Bournemouth, but have earned just seven points from their last seven games. Could their mildly disappointing recent form be worsened by a shock defeat by Villa?
Probably not, but the players have to respond to Garde’s comments somehow. It can’t be nice for a manager to question your effort levels, so it would be nice for the players to prove that they are committed – even if it is a bit late for that now…
Stoke have failed to score in 11 league matches this season, with only two other clubs equalling that poor record (you can guess who one of those teams is).