In-form Potters take on Paul Lambert’s side at Villa Park.
Paul Lambert has managed to steady the Villa Park ship of late, putting in brittle performances to eek out points from their last three fixtures. However the Midlands side needs wins to drag themselves clear of the danger zone and the Scot will look to in-form forward Christian Benteke to give Stoke City all sorts of problems at the back.
Tony Pulis has taken his Potters side back into the top half of the table after hitting a fine run of form that has seen Stoke City win four of their last five matches though their away form is still not all that impressive, managing just one win all season, though that win did come at West Brom last weekend.
Venue Villa Park
Last season Aston Villa 1-1 Stoke
Referee Roger East
This season’s matches 3 Y4, R2, 2.00 cards per game
Odds Aston Villa 7-5 Stoke 19-10 Draw 11-5
Subs from Given, El Ahmadi, Vlaar, Albrighton, Ireland, Delph, Bowery, Stevens, Bent, Williams, N’Zogbia Carruthers, Herd
Doubtful Vlaar (calf), N’Zogbia (knee)
Injured Gardner (knee, May), Stevens (ankle, unknown), Bennett (knee, unknown) Dunne (groin, unknown)
Form guide DWDLLW
Disciplinary record Y29 R2
Leading scorer Benteke 3
Subs from Nash, Sorensen, Whitehead, Palacios, Owen, Ness, Upson, Kightly, Wilkinson, Arismendi, Jerome, Edu
Doubtful Jerome (ankle), Owen (hamstring), Crouch (mouth)
Injured Delap (hernia, 15 Dec), Wilson (broken leg, unknown)
Suspended Adam (one match)
Form guide WWWDWL
Disciplinary record Y33 R1
Leading scorer Crouch 4
Villa are unbeaten in their last 13 top-flight home matches against Stoke since a 1-0 defeat in November 1965 (W7, D6).
Five of their most recent seven Premier League meetings have been drawn, including the last three.
Villa are vying to win consecutive home matches within the same season for the first time in 28 months. They last achieved back-to-back league wins at Villa Park in August 2010, against West Ham and Everton respectively.
They have only won two of their last 12 home games in the Premier League, averaging a point per game in that sequence (W2, D6, L4).
Their tally of 14 points from 15 games is the club’s joint-lowest at this stage of a season since the 1994-95 campaign.
Only winless QPR have scored fewer than the 12 goals mustered by Villa so far.
Paul Lambert’s side have gained only one point from losing positions this season – the joint-worst record in the division.
They visit Liverpool and Chelsea in their next two league fixtures and then host Tottenham.
Stoke are on a five-match unbeaten run in the league, winning the last three. The only time they have won four consecutive Premier League matches was a year ago.
Tony Pulis’s side have accrued their highest points total after 15 games of a top-flight season since also having the equivalent off 22 points in 1976-77.
They have kept an unrivalled seven clean sheets this season. Their defensive record of 12 goals conceded is bettered only by Manchester City.
The Potters are seeking consecutive away wins for the first time in a year – and only the second time in their Premier League history.
Peter Crouch made 37 league appearances for Aston Villa between 2002 and 2004, scoring six goals.
SOURCE: BBC Sport
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