Stoke - Aston Villa Preview: Paul Lambert seeks vital win at out-of-form Potters

Amid poor attacking form, Tony Pulis looks to end his side’s three-game losing run & secure survival against a relegation-threatened Villans side with a poor defensive record

Stoke City
Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson
Shotton, N'Zonzi, Whelan, Walters
Jerome, Crouch
  Aston Villa
Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett
Sylla, Westwood, Bannan
Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor

Stoke have fielded a consistent back four throughout the season behind central midfield duo Steven N’Zonzi and Glenn Whelan, but left-winger Matthew Etherington (knock) is doubtful.

Versatile attacker Jonathan Walters could therefore continue on the left flank in his absence, with Cameron Jerome up front alongside Peter Crouch and Ryan Shotton on the right, but winger Michael Kightly and striker Kenwyne Jones are other attacking options.

Aston Villa could continue with Joe Bennett at left-back and Nathan Baker at centre-back as Ciaran Clark (shoulder) is doubtful, while fellow defender Richard Dunne (groin) is a long-term casualty, as are midfielders Gary Gardner (knee), Chris Herd and Marc Albrighton (both foot).

Paul Lambert has opted for Yacouba Sylla and Barry Bannan alongside Ashley Westwood in midfield of late, but Fabian Delph and Charles N’Zogbia are other options.

Andreas Weimann, Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor have impressed in attack but striker Darren Bent has recovered from injury and could feature at some point.

  • Stoke have won one and lost eight of their last 11 Premier League matches since the New Year in a worrying slide down the table and, having lost their last three matches, are now just four points above the relegation zone in 13th place.
  • The Potters have however lost just two of their last 22 home games in the Premier League, having gone 17 league matches at the Britannia Stadium unbeaten in 2012.
  • Tony Pulis’ side have scored the fewest goals (27) of any Premier League team this season, and have netted just one goal in their last five matches through a penalty from Jon Walters in a 2-1 defeat to Newcastle.
  • Aston Villa have slipped into the relegation zone on goal difference, despite winning two games in a row for the first time this season ahead of their defeat to Liverpool on Sunday.
  • Villa won their last away game 2-1 against Reading to end a run of seven without a win on the road.
  • The past four meetings between the two sides have ended in draws, with their meeting in December at Villa Park ending 0-0 with Ryan Shotton sent off late in the game. Paul Lambert’s side have not kept a single clean sheet in their 20 matches since that 0-0 draw.
  • Belgium international striker Christian Benteke (pictured, above) has struck 14 league goals so far this season and is the Premier League’s joint sixth top goal scorer.