When you looked at Villa vs. Stoke at the start of the season, you saw a potential promotion clash. Two sides who could be battling at the top, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way for either side. Villa are on their way back up and Stoke won’t be easy, but neither side has really lived up to expectations so far this term.
Why have both sides not hit the heights? Bad tactical decisions, poor player attitudes and just bad signings could all be argued, but it’s about looking up for both teams now. Villa are in good form as we all know, but Stoke are not doing too badly themselves. Stoke haven’t lost a game since the 20th October and now sit 10th in the table. Their opponents that day?
Birmingham City. Funny that.
“In my head, we should have had six wins out of our six games.
On the balance of chances against Nottingham Forest, we should have won that game. And, everyone who saw the West Brom match and the equalising goal at the end, will know we should have had three points there, too.
Our performance levels are right up there. It was a real tough period of games – teams above us, teams challenging in that top six – and we have come through really well…so far.”- Dean Smith
For Villa, it’s another big game although I’m sure Dean Smith will have an eye on next week’s home clash with Leeds. That’s the bigger one at this point but there’s no point beating Leeds if you are going to lose to Stoke. Everyone knows that.
Villa have won major problems for this one. There’s no Jack Grealish. He’s out with a shin injury and while I’ve heard the rumours that he may be out for two months, I’m staying hopeful.
On that note, I do hope Jack Grealish starts to play with his shin-pads applied correctly. I know he thinks it is a good luck charm, but I think Grealish is a good luck charm for a Villa victory so if he’s not playing, we have a better chance of not winning the game. Come on Jack.
In terms of other selection issues, not much else has changed. Albert Adomah is still a big doubt, while Neil Taylor, Henri Lansbury, Mile Jedinak and James Bree are all out. That should mean another game at left-back for Alan Hutton, but up front, we could see a front two of Scott Hogan and Tammy Abraham. A lot of people are calling for it with Grealish’s injury. I’m not and I don’t think Smith will do it but I’m just throwing it out there.
Predicted Aston Villa line-up to play Stoke City:
Nyland; Elmohamady, Tuanzebe, Chester, Hutton; Hourihane, Bjarnason, McGinn; El Ghazi, Abraham, Kodjia
THE NUMBERS THAT MATTER
- Villa have a really poor recent record against Stoke. They’ve lost their last three and only picked up any points in one of their last six games against the Potters.
- Dean Smith’s men are unbeaten against relegated teams so far this season after a win against Swansea and a should-be win against West Brom.
- Expect goals from the Claret and Blue. Villa have scored more than once in each of their last six games while Stoke have only kept one clean sheet in their last four games.
Picture Credit: Aston Villa