Aston Villa travel to the Britannia Stadium on St Stephen’s day to take on Stoke City with Alex McLeish’s side looking to pick up a win after two straight defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal; kick-off at 7.45pm.
Villa are currently on a rotten run of form that has seen McLeish’s side pick up just one win in their last six league fixtures, as well as losing four of those games.
That run included Tottenham, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal and manager McLeish will be hoping that his side can get back to winning ways, despite some poor performances this season that have left the Villa Park faithful worried for their safety from the drop.
Stoke’s defeat at the hands of Manchester City on Wednesday ended the Potters four game winning streak and Tony Pulis’ side will be looking to bounce straight back from an extremely one-sided game against the Premier League leaders.
The Britannia is often misleadingly referred to as a fortress for the home team but the reality is that Stoke have won only four games out of eight there this season; they have also lost twice and drawn twice.
Stoke’s home form is a lot better than Aston Villa’s away form however; McLeish’s side have won once on the road this year against a struggling Bolton Wanderers.
There’s no surprise that Stoke are the favourites for this game with Betfair.com at 1.96 and, although McLeish sets his teams up in an overly defensive manner, their defending from set pieces has been abysmal this season, and with Stoke’s aerial prowess, the home team look to be in a good position to take advantage of this weakness.
Stoke City will be boosted by the return from illness of Peter Crouch, who will most likely play some part in Villa’s visit after the former Villa striker missed Stoke’s defeat at Manchester City last week.
Tony Pulis will also welcome back Ryan Shawcross, as the Stoke captain returns from suspension as well as Matthew Etherington, who may be back in the side after suffering a slight strain; Glenn Whelan looks to be a doubt with a calf injury and the Ireland midfielder will most likely be out of Monday’s game.
Alan Hutton will play no part for Aston Villa as he serves his suspension for seeing red against Arsenal in midweek but multi-million pound striker Darren Bent is likely to play at the Britannia while James Collins and Emile Heskey return from injury as well and could also feature.
Stoke City squad: Sorensen, Woodgate, Shawcross, Upson, Huth, Wilson, Shotton, Whitehead, Whelan, Etherington, Palacios, Jones, Jerome, Walters, Crouch, Fuller, Pennant, Delap, Diao, Arismendi, Higginbotham, Wilkinson, Begovic.
Aston Villa squad: Guzan, Cuellar, Collins, Dunne, Clark, Warnock, Beye, Delph, Bannan, Petrov, Ireland, Albrighton, Bent, Agbonlahor, Heskey, Delfouneso, N’Zogbia, Weimann, Marshall, Johnson, Burke.