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Premier League

  • 9 April 2012
  • • 17:30
  • • Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Referee: M. Dean
  • • Attendance: 30100
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Aston Villa - Stoke Preview: Villans & Potters seek to improve poor home and away form, respectively, in Midlands derby

Alex McLeish's men need victory to secure their top-flight status for the 2012-13 campaign, whilst Tony Pulis's side aim to seal a top-half finish to cap a fine season


PROBABLE LINEUPS

ASTON VILLA

Given
Hutton, Collins, Baker, Lichaj
Ireland, Herd, Bannan, Warnock
Agbonlahor, Heskey

STOKE CITY

Begovic
Shotton, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson
Pennant, Whitehead, Whelan, Etherington
Crouch, Walters


Aston Villa are set to name an unchanged side from the one that produced a heroic effort to secure a 1-1 draw away at Liverpool on Saturday.

Alex McLeish has a number of injury problems and may be forced to hand Stephen Warnock a second successive start in a less familiar left-wing position.

Stiliyan Petrov was diagnosed with acute leukaemia last week and joins long-term absentees Darren Bent, Fabian Delph and Richard Dunne on the sidelines.

Charles N'Zogbia, Ciaran Clark and Carlos Cuellar are all nearing first-team returns but are not considered match fit yet.

Stoke City are also expected to name the same line-up that saw off Wolves at the weekend. That means another start for Ryan Shotton, who came in for the injured Andy Wilkinson.

Wilkinson's groin injury is worse than first feared and he remains on the treatment table alongside Jonathan Woodgate, Salif Diao and Mamady Sidibe.

Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington are both expected to start their second games in succession as they recover from slight knocks suffered last month.


DID YOU KNOW?
  • Aston Villa have won just one of their last five home matches, drawing two and losing two in the process.
  • Villa have picked up only 12 points from a possible 51 against top-half opposition this season.
  • Villa have conceded the highest number of goals (13) from corners this season.
  • Stoke have earned just one point from their last five away games.
  • The Potters have picked up just 17 points from their last 15 games in total.
  • Tony Pulis (pictured right) has seen his men scored more than a third of their goals (34.5%) between the 75th and 90th minutes.


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Players to watch

G. Agbonlahor

Position: Attacker

Games: 2

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
Having been named as captain for the rest of the season following Stiliyan Petrov's prolonged absence, Agbonlahor has a point to prove.

This season has not exactly been the Birmingham-born speedster's most prolific - he has netted just five times in this campaign.

Nevertheless, now wearing the captain's armband, and with top scorer Darren Bent still out, Agbonlahor should feel inspired in trying to aid his hometown club in their quest to avoid relegation.

P. Crouch

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
The towering former England striker has struck twice in as many home games but is hoping to help his side overcome their troubles on the road.

His wonder goal against Manchester City two weeks ago was followed up by a more typical effort in a hard-fought 2-1 win over Wolves and there will be added incentive to score at Villa Park as he faces one of his several former employers.

Having scored four goals away from the Britannia this season, Crouch will be hoping to add to his tally and boost his chances of a recall to the England setup in time for Euro 2012.

Editor's Prediction

Aston Villa will be buoyed by their resilient performance at Anfield in frustrating Liverpool with a 1-1 draw but their home form has been awful of late.

They need to improve it rapidly with difficult games to come against Manchester United and Tottenham in a run-in which is far from easy for Alex McLeish's injury-ravaged squad.

Considering how bad their performances at Villa Park have been though, combined with the Potters' awful run away from home, I feel that this match could result in a drab stalemate.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Aston Villa

Stoke City

Wins
2
0
3
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Aston Villa FC AST
Aston Villa FC Aston Villa
Draw
Stoke City FC STO
Stoke City FC Stoke City
36%
24%
40%

Top 3 Predictions

Aston Villa FC AST
0 - 1
Stoke City FC STO
Aston Villa FC AST
1 - 0
Stoke City FC STO
Aston Villa FC AST
1 - 2
Stoke City FC STO

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