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August 16, 2014
• Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Referee: A. Taylor
• Attendance: 27478
A. Weimann 50'
My name's Ben Cullimore and it's been an absolute pleasure describing the action to you this afternoon. Goodbye for now!
Mark Hughes will be devestated that his side, who won both games against Aston Villa last season, suffered a defeat on the opening day of the season, but, in truth, Aston Villa deserved the win. They weathered an early Stoke City storm and then quickly became the better of the two sides, showing flair and finesse in attack as well as strength and discipline in defence. No matter what the hosts tried to do, they couldn't find a way through a resolute back four, with Senderos and Cissokho playing particularly well. Stoke City now go on to play Hull City away from home next Sunday, whilst Aston Villa face Newcastle United at Villa Park on Saturday.
FULL-TIME: STOKE CITY 0-1 ASTON VILLA
90' + 5'
Anthony Taylor blows his whistle for the final time and brings an end to a fascinating game, handing Aston Villa an opening day victory!
90' + 4'
Stoke City embark on one last attack and Arnautovic is handed yet another chance to pinch an equaliser but his close-range shot is blocked by Senderos, who has been an absolute rock in the heart of the Aston Villa defence.
90' + 2'
Mark Hughes is not happy on the sidelines as Aston Villa continue to waste time deep inside the Stoke City half of the pitch. The hosts are clearly frustrated and can't find a way to get the ball away from the Aston Villa forwards as time quickly runs out.
The fourth official has indicated that there will be five minutes of added time.
Aston Villa break away again after another failed Stoke City attack but they sensibly decide to keep possession rather than risk losing the ball. Agbonlahor and Bacuna then play the ball between one another before the latter wins his side an important corner.
Bacuna has a great chance to seal the points for Aston Villa but he skies the shot way over the bar. After breaking away on a counter attack, the ball is pulled back to Bacuna, who, despite being off balance, decides to try to curl the ball into the back of the net with a first time shot, resulting in a rather comical effort that buries itself deep into the top of the stand behind the goal.
Yellow Card Gabriel Agbonlahor
Richardson gives away a needless free-kick 20 yards out, allowing Adam to send the ball into Crouch. However, the set-piece is poor and it strikes the wall before hitting a red and white shirt and bouncing out for a goal kick, which Guzan, sensibly, takes his time with.
Arnautovic's frustrating day continues, as he wastes yet another good chance for the hosts. No matter how hard they try, Stoke City just can't seem to find a way past the Aston Villa defence, which is increasing in numbers by the minute.
Both sides make one further change each, with Adam coming on for Whelan for Stoke City, whilst Weimann makes way for Bacuna for the visitors.
Yellow Card Alan Hutton
Aston Villa win a corner but it leads to a swift Stoke City counter attack. Bojan finds himself with the ball at his feet and tries to send a ball into the penalty area but it's poor and doesn't trouble the disjointed Aston Villa defence.
The pace of the game has slowed considerably as Aston Villa attempt to keep the ball deep in Stoke City's half of the pitch. After three consecutive throw-ins for the visitors, Hutton whips a cross into the box but it's too near to Begovic and he's able to cut the ball out easily.
It's all Stoke City at the moment as Aston Villa find themselves with a lot of defending to do. Whelan sets up Bojan on the left wing and the Spaniard tries to cross into the penalty area but Hutton is able to stick a foot out to stop the ball from reaching its intended target.
Again, Crouch uses his height to help Stoke City get a shot away on goal. This time, he heads the ball towards Whelan, who darts into the box before turning and passing back to Arnautovic. With plenty of time and space, the Austrian really should have sent a looping cross in towards Crouch in the centre of the penalty area but he instead decides to shoot, and his effort flies wide of the left post, much to the annoyance of his teammates.
Crouch has made an immediate impact since coming on. He rises high and heads the ball down into the path of Ireland, who then tries to return the favour with a lofted through-ball, but it's too heavy and Guzan is able to collect the ball with ease.
Mame Biram Diouf
As expected, Crouch comes on for Diouf, whilst Grealish replaces N'Zogbia.
Both Crouch and Grealish are warming up on the sidelines for Stoke City and Aston Villa, respectively. For the former side, Crouch is definitely needed as we enter a vitally important final 20 minutes of the game.
Stoke City decide not to send a lofted ball into the box and instead set up Bojan on the edge of the penalty area, but he hesitates for too long and is closed down before he can get a shot away on target.
Hutton dispossesses Pieters wonderfully but, for some strange reason, the referee blows his whistle and awards Stoke City a free kick to the left of the Aston Villa penalty area.
Aston Villa are forced to temporarily play with ten men whilst Vlaar is off the field receiving treatment, but they switch to a back five which Stoke City are unable to find a way through.
Vlaar meets the resulting set-piece with - judging by the replays - what seems to be his chin, sending the ball flying over the crossbar.
Delph steals the ball away from Shawcross before teeing up Agbonlahor on the left wing. He sprints down towards the corner flag before attempting to send a cross into the box, but it's deflected out for a corner kick.
The Stoke City players and fans are crying for a penalty after Bardsley is bundled over by Weimann, but referee Anthony Taylor shakes his head and waves play on.
The resulting set-piece is sent towards Diouf at the far end of the Aston Villa penalty area. The striker heads the ball into the heart of the box but is let down by his teammates, who are nowhere to be found.
A fantastic dellvery by N'Zonzi ends up with Bardsley deep down the right wing, but the Scotsman is let down by his first touch and Cissokho is able to poke the ball out for a corner.
The Stoke City fans are getting restless as Shawcross wastes a good attacking chance with a poor long ball that ends up in Guzan's hands.
Bardsley is accidentally caught in the face by Agbonlahor as they both wrestle for the ball, causing the referee to halt the game temporarily whilst he receives treatment.
The Aston Villa fans are in fine voice, and with good reason; their side haven't won away from home since New Year's Day and, judging by the way they have played so far, they have a good chance to pick up a much-needed victory today. However, there's a long way still to go and Stoke City are not going to go down without a fight.
The tempo has been increased considerably by Weimann's goal and Stoke City have responded positively to going behind. Bojan attempts to fire the hosts back into the game from the edge of the penalty area but Vlaar flings himself in the way of the ball to stop the new signing from surely scoring his first goal in English football.
Goal Andreas Weimann
GOAL! And there it is; Aston Villa are deservedly ahead! The ball bounces around before finding Weimann on the right hand side of the Stoke City box. His first touch is poor but the attempted tackle by Wilson is even worse, allowing the Austrian to compose himself before spinning and slotting the ball past Begovic.
This time Aston Villa attempt to pick open the Stoke City defence down the right flank, with Hutton setting up Richardson on the edge of the penalty area. The latter attempts to cross the ball into the box but it's cut out and sent away from danger.
Aston Villa pick up where they left off and embark on an early attack. Arnautovic and Wilson are on hand to stop Agbonlahor finding a way into the Stoke City area before the ball ends up with Delph, but his attempted long ball over to the left wing misses everybody and bounces out for a throw-in.
And we're off once again! No changes have been made at half-time, and it's Stoke City that get us underway this time.
The teams are making their way back out onto the pitch ahead of the second half. Can Aston Villa build on the attacking success that they found towards the end of the first period, or will Stoke City find a way to carve open a strong and determined Aston Villa back four?
Stoke City started the brightest of the two sides at the beginning of the first half but Aston Villa slowly but surely found their way back into the game. Agbonlahor will be kicking himself for missing what was surely the easiest of chances in the 26th minute, one that would have given his side a much-needed one-goal lead. The hosts have had plenty of chances themselves as well, but Diouf remains isolated up front, and until they are able to fix that problem they are going to find scoring goals a big difficulty.
HALF-TIME: STOKE CITY 0-0 ASTON VILLA
45' + 3'
Just as things were hotting up once again, referee Anthony Taylor blows his whistle and brings an end to the first half.
45' + 1'
Another great chance for Aston Villa! Once again, N'Zogbia finds himself in acres of space down the left wing, and he uses the time available to dart into the box before firing on goal. His effort is blocked by an outstretched leg but ends up bouncing around in the penalty area before Wilson boots the ball away before any of the several Aston Villa players inside the box are able to get a foot on it themselves.
The fourth official has indicated that there will be three minutes of added time.
Bardsley unleashes a long-range shot that causes Guzan problems by bouncing just in front of him, and he ends up having to parry it into the path of Bojan. Luckily for the Aston Villa goalkeeper, the Spaniard isn't able to connect with the ball and the scoreline remains goalless.
Great chance for Aston Villa! Cissokho once again shows how dangerous he is in attack with another great cross from the left wing into the heart of the Stoke City box. It finds Weimann's head but the Austrian's effort goes just over the crossbar, and is then flagged for offside.
Weimann goes down and appeals for a free-kick but the referee waves play on. Stoke City use the opportunity to embark on a counter attack but it comes to a premature end when Diouf is flagged offside.
Richardson muscles his way several red and white shirts before sending the ball over to N'Zogbia on the right flank. However, the Frenchman takes too long in possession and is dispossessed on the edge of the penalty area.
Delph decides to attempt a volley from 30 yards out but, as expected, his ambitious effort flies well wide of the Stoke City goal.
There's a huge gap between Diouf and the rest of the Stoke City players, which has resulted in the hosts firing a plethora of long balls over towards the Senegalese striker in an attempt to set him through on goal. However, time after time he finds himself too isolated, allowing the Aston Villa defence to shepherd the ball away from him with ease.
Aston Villa earn themselves a corner that N'Zogbia sends miles over the heads of all of his teammates, allowing Stoke City to regain possession on the left flank. They decide to take their time rather than launching a swift counter attack and are made to pay for that choice when the move breaks down on the halfway line without troubling their opponents.
Stoke City are back on the front foot now but are still finding it difficult to find a way through a resolute Aston Villa defence. Senderos and Cissokho have been particularly impressive for the visitors so far.
Pieters rushes forward in the centre of the field and attempts to thread a through-ball into the path of Bojan, but his touch is too heavy and it rolls out for a goal kick.
Pieters gives away another free kick after a late challenge on N'Zogbia, this time halfway inside the Stoke City penalty area. Westwood sends the resulting set-piece deep into the box and it bounces around before landing at the feet of Cissokho, whose attempted shot isn't particularly clean and is easily blocked by a red and white shirt.
What a chance for Aston Villa, and what a miss by Agbonlahor! Begovic comes rushing out to meet the ball but misjudges the situation entirely. The ball is then pulled back by Richardson to Agbonlahor who has just Shawcross to beat in front of goal but he shanks his shot wide of the post. That was easily the best chance of the game so far and a clearly frustrated Agbonlahor knows it.
There's a break in play whilst Bardsley receives medical treatment after receiving a clattering from Delph. No foul was given, however, so Aston Villa will restart the game with a throw-in.
It's one counter attack after another at the moment. After Aston Villa's is broken down at one end, Stoke City embark on one of their own at the other, with Ireland sprinting down the right wing before trying to pick out Diouf in the middle of the penalty area, only for Senderos to stick out a foot and meet the ball first.
Aston Villa break away on a swift and dangerous counter attack after preventing Stoke City from going ahead at the other end of the pitch. Delph picks up the ball on the left flank and crosses into the Stoke City penalty area where Shawcross dives down low to attempt to head the ball away from danger. The ball is sent looping upwards, however, but after a scramble in front of goal, it finally bounces away and behind for a goal kick.
Corner after corner is sent into the Stoke City box, but the defence hold firm and weather the Aston Villa storm.
After spending so much of the opening quarter-of-an-hour defending, Cissokho makes a marauding attacking run up the wing before sending a deep cross towards Richardson at the back post. Pieters is there, however, and gets a head onto the ball just before Richardson is able to pull the trigger.
Westwood earns himself an early yellow card after a very poor challenge on N'Zonzi. If that happened later in the game, he could have seen red instead.
Yellow Card Ashley Westwood
Bojan has had a bright start to life in the Premier League and is seemingly playing in a free role behind Diouf that is allowing him to glide from one flank to another in an attempt to pierce the heart of the Aston Villa defence. This time, he runs in from the left before firing a shot that goes just wide of Guzan's right post.
Bojan breaks away down the left wing and tees up Arnautovic, who sends a wonderful cross into the heart of the box. However, Cissokho is there, once again, to clear the danger, this time with his head.
Arnautovic finds himself in space just outside the Aston Villa penalty area and decides to shoot, but his effort flies high and wide and doesn't cause any problems for Guzan.
Shawcross's clearance turns into a swift counter attack for Stoke City that finally ends up with Bojan on the right flank. He twists and turns and tries to find a way past Cissokho but the Aston Villa defender stands tall and dispossesses the Spaniard.
Aston Villa embark on their first real attack of the game and N'Zogbia tries to thread a ball through to Weimann, but Shawcross sticks a foot out and clears the ball towards the halfway line.
After a nice, bright build-up by Stoke City, N'Zonzi unleashes the first shot of the game from the edge of the penalty area, but his connection isn't great and it trickles into the arms of Guzan.
Shawcross attempts to send a lofted ball into the path of Bojan but Cissokho is there to use his strength to shepherd the ball out of play for a goal kick.
It's been an even start to the game so far. Both sides are attempting to find a way past the respective defensive lines with a multitude of long balls over the top, but so far neither have had any luck.
And we're off! Aston Villa get us underway, kicking from right-to-left.
The teams are making their way out onto the pitch ahead of kick off. The atmosphere continues to rise and both sets of fans are in great voice.
As for Aston Villa, they have also chosen to field three new faces, with Senderos, Cissokho and Richardson all starting. Senderos and Cissokho both join the club from Valencia, whilst Richardson joins up with former Fulham teammate Senderos after two years in West London. Plenty of players have plenty to prove this season, so today's opening day clash is certainly going to be an interesting one.
Mark Hughes names three new signings in the Stoke City starting line-up, with Bardsley, Bojan and Diouf all getting the nod from their manager after their moves from Sunderland, Barcelona and Hannover 96, respectively, this summer. The latter two will be particularly eager to kickstart the campaign with impressive performances, but both for different reasons. Bojan has struggled since being labelled as the next Messi in his Barcelona days and has moved to Stoke City in an attempt to resuscitate a career that has gone rapidly downhill, whilst Diouf, the former Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers striker, has had two good seasons in Germany and will be looking to make a good impression on his return to the Premier League.
Aston Villa substitutes: Given, Baker, Clark, Bacuna, El Ahmadi, Bent, Grealish
Aston Villa XI: Guzan; Hutton, Vlaar, Senderos, Cissokho; Westwood, Delph, Richardson, N'Zogbia; Weimann, Agbonlahor
Stoke City substitutes: Sorensen, Huth, Muniesa, Adam, Walters, Sidwell, Crouch
Stoke City XI: Begovic; Bardsley, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; Whelan, N'Zonzi; Bojan, Ireland, Arnautovic; Diouf
First, let's have a look at how the two sides line up this afternoon...
After what feels like an eternity, the Premier League has finally returned, and, as expected, the atmosphere here at the Britannia Stadium is fantastic, as both sets of fans get ready for the all-important first clash of the season.
Good afternoon and welcome to our live text commentary of Stoke City vs. Aston Villa. My name is Ben Cullimore and I will be keeping you up-to-date with all of the action from today's clash.
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