Stoke City are looking for their second successive away victory after last week’s win at West Brom. Stoke will go to Villa Park, currently sitting second in the form table over the last six games with only Manchester United ahead of them. They have won four out of their last five games, and will aim for their fourth straight win against Paul Lambert’s charges.
Aston Villa’s 1-1 draw with QPR last week keeps them only two points above the relegation zone. Villa have had a dismal start to their Premier League campaign under new manager Paul Lambert. They have only had 50 shots on target all season, averaging at 3.3 per game. One of Aston Villa’s downfalls this season has come from their lack of goal scoring. They have scored only 12 goals this season, averaging one goal every 119 minutes, with only bottom club QPR scoring less goals.
This is only the ninth Premier League meeting between the two teams. Stoke City have the edge with two wins to Villa’s one. The two teams have been evenly matched in the past, having drawn five times in their eight meetings, including the last three fixtures making it hard to pick a winner going into Saturday’s game. Aston Villa were Stoke’s first victims when the Potters were promoted to the top flight in 2008.
Stoke have not won at Villa Park for 24 years but they will be looking to capitalize on their good form and change that stat.
John Carew has the most goals in this fixture with three, but Robert Huth and Kenwyne Jones both have two and will be looking to add to their tally on Saturday.
Aston Villa will have to continue to rely on youth at the back with Richard Dunne and Ron Vlaar still side-lined. Charles N’Zogbia remains Villa’s main attacking absentee. Paul Lambert will choose to keep Darren Bent on the bench with the inform Christian Benteke retaining his spot.
Stoke will expect to have top goal scorer Peter Crouch back after having his teeth knocked out against Newcastle in their last game at the Britannia.
Stoke are typically known for the rugged, physical and defensive mentality. They have had 2568 ground 50-50s this season compared to Aston Villa’s 998, who with a younger team like to pass the ball around the back a lot more. Despite this, they have a higher win percentage of ground 50-50’s, however inevitably, Stoke do win more in the air. Stoke have more than doubled Aston Villa’s tackles but have lost possession 510 times compared to the Villa’s mere 157.
Ones to watch
If Aston Villa have disappointed in scoring goals this season then it’s hard to imagine where they would be without new signing Christian Benteke. The Belgium International has scored a quarter of Villa’s goals this season with over a fifth of their entire shots on target so far. Iro
nically enough he didn’t have a single attempt on goal despite playing 90 minutes against QPR last weekend. In the midfield Brett Holman has been a valuable asset in the Villa side. His passing has been particularly impressive with 83% of defensive zone pass completion and 65% of attacking zone pass completion.
Jonathan Walters continues to impress for Stoke this season, and his stats reflect this. He has scored three goals from just nine shots on target.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1 Stoke City 1
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