Aston Villa v Stoke City 2015
Yet another Midlands clash is upon us. We’ve not done too well so far in these (apart from winning the main one) but that’s a reflection of the season so far. Similarly, Stoke are struggling despite recording their highest ever Premier League finish last season. Will Villa get a long over-due win against Stoke at Villa Park?
Villa have taken just one point from the last six league games.
Sherwood on Stoke’s Hughes
“He’s had ups and downs and he always comes through smiling at the end of it.
“Mark is very experienced. He is exactly as a manager what he was as a player – very tough. He knows what he wants and knows how to get it.
“You learn a lot from the likes of Mark Hughes. There’s Alan Pardew too.
“They’ve all had long careers in management. Mark Hughes is right up there among the top ones.”
Sherwood on relegation battles
“It’s too early to put us in a relegation battle. We’re a young group, a new group. I’m confident we’ll be okay.
“It’s my job with the group of players we have to make sure we get up the league. I know the job comes with pressure – that’s part and parcel of it.
“I’ll stand up as manager and the players must stand up as players.”
Hughes on Villa Park
“It’s a place that we have enjoyed going to over the past couple of years I would suggest, and hopefully we can claim three more points this time round.
“It’s never an easy place to go but we have produced some really pleasing stuff there during our previous visits, and we can take heart from that.
“We picked up our first win in the league last weekend and now we want to build upon that and sign off for the international break unbeaten in four.
“We were pleased with how things went last week, taking four points from two games and beating Fulham in the cup, so we are in good spirits at the moment and looking forward to the game.”
Shay Given on Villa
“There’s been a lot of change since I left a couple of months ago.
“There are a lot of new players at the club who I don’t know from my time there but there are still a few familiar faces, including the manager and goalkeeping coach.
“There are a lot of people I will say hello to, and it will be nice to see them again. I always enjoy going back to a former club.
“My focus is firmly on Stoke City though now and that will certainly be the case for me come Saturday.
“Of course, I’ll say my hellos and goodbyes but during the game I’ll want to win and push Stoke City up the league.”
21st Feb 2015 Aston Villa 1 Stoke City 2
Tim Sherwood’s first game as Villa manager ended in disappointment thanks to a late Victor Moses penalty.
Villa – Last five matches at home: W 1, D 1, L 3
Stoke – Last five matches away: D 3, L 2
Villa have not won against Stoke at Villa Park in the last five attempts
One to Watch
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
We never seem to do that well against Stoke at Villa Park and the memory of the 4-1 loss under Lambert at Villa Park is still painful.
Although we have done OK at the Britannia in recent seasons, Villa have won just two of the last 11 league meetings with Stoke.
Recently we’ve seen that Villa have decent goalscoring options but our defensive frailties remain. Our last three league games have ended in defeats by a one-goal margin, so while we’ve been reasonably competitive, we’ve dropped a lot of points.
With both teams conceding frequently you get the sense that defensive grit may pay a key part on Saturday. It will probably be a game in which Villa need to grind a result out, especially considering Stoke have come from behind to win during their last two visits to Villa Park.
We’ve taken just one point from six league games during some very winnable fixtures, conceding an average of two goals per game during this barren run.
“It’s never an easy place to go but we have produced some really pleasing stuff there during our previous visits, and we can take heart from that” – Hughes on Villa PARK
What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide
It was Tim Sherwood’s first game as Villa manager when Stoke rocked up to Villa Park in February.
Paul Lambert’s departure had left Villa fans optimistic about avoiding relegation and such renewed hope was evident from the atmosphere that day.
The team looked better under Sherwood but we lost, and poor results at home have been common in recent years.
We’ve earned just 71 points from 73 league games at Villa Park since December 2011 and you don’t have to be a mathematician to know how poor that is.
As we saw against Blues a lively atmosphere can make a difference. Hopefully the fans play their part on Saturday, despite our poor form.
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
There are positives to be seen at Villa, but at usual they’re buried under some pretty severe negatives.
Still, we clearly have goalscoring options and the fact that Gestede has now scored four goals this season answers some critics about his ability.
As bad as our home form is, Stoke’s away days haven’t been particularly enjoyable. There last away win was… you guessed it, against Villa in February.
Stoke have yet to keep a clean sheet this season and with Villa’s goalscoring at least offering some consolation to poor general performances, the opportunity is there for Villa to get back to winning ways.
Saturday’s match, 18th v 17th in the table, could have a significant effect on both team’s fortunes this season.
With games against Chelsea, Swansea, Southampton and Spurs on the horizon, hopefully we show some of the often-mentioned winning mentality and prevail this weekend.
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