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Played
December 21, 2013 10:00 AM EST
Britannia Stadium — Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Referee:‬ C. Pawson‎
Attendance:‬ 26003‎
 
50′ Charlie Adam
Libor Kozák 66′
70′ Peter Crouch
 

Premier League Preview: Stoke City - Aston Villa

Paul Lambert's men have won just two of their last 10 games and travel to the Britannia Stadium where the home side beat Chelsea last time out in the Premier League.

By James Willoughby

Aston Villa will look for a response from back-to-back Premier League defeats when the club travels to Stoke City on Saturday.

Despite sitting 11th in the table, Villa has lost consecutive matches to Fulham and Manchester United, failing to score and conceding five in the process.

Villa has won just two of its last 10, but has shown an ability to grind out draws and manager Paul Lambert is encouraged by his squad's attitude.

"We're stronger as a group and we're growing stronger all the time," Lambert told the Birmingham Mail. "Defeats are part of the job, but you simply dust yourself down and get right back at it. This attitude is increasingly evident in our play and the way we can deal with adversity.

"We're still a work in progress and we're nowhere near the finished article, but the foundations are in place."

Lambert will be hopeful striker Christian Benteke returns to form, with the Belgium forward now having failed to score in more than three months.

Benteke's last goal came in a 2-1 home defeat against Newcastle United in mid-September and his return of four goals in 14 Premier League fixtures is a far cry from his 19-goal haul last term.

Villa has not had a regular source of goals this season, with Libor Kozak (three goals) and Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann (one each in the league) failing to fire consistently.

One player who has starred this season has been 24-year-old midfielder Fabian Delph, though, with the former Leeds United product tipped for an England call-up after a superb run of form.

Stoke City has climbed to 13th on the back of a three-match unbeaten league run, but will be downcast after a 2-0 Capital One Cup quarterfinal defeat to Manchester United on Wednesday.

Mark Hughes' side is slowly starting to show signs of improvement, but Stoke has not scored in four of its last five fixtures.

Captain Ryan Shawcross injured his groin against his former club United and will miss Saturday's match, as will normal central defensive partner Robert Huth (knee).

That will mean Hughes has to use his squad, with Marc Wilson and Marc Muniesa potentially filling the center back positions.

Matthew Etherington (back) is Stoke's only other worry, but he could still feature, while midfielder Stephen Ireland is ineligible under the terms of his loan deal from Villa.

The likes of Joe Bennett (back), Jores Okore (knee) and Charles N'Zogbia (calf) are no closer to a return for Villa and uncertainty surrounds injuries suffered by Ron Vlaar (calf) and Chris Herd (facial injury).

Stoke has not won one of the last five meetings against Villa – four have been draws – but the home side has happy memories of facing the Midlands club.

Stoke's first Premier League win came against Villa in Aug. 2008, as Mamady Sidibe scored an injury-time winner in a 3-2 thriller.

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Last Five Matches
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Available Squads
1Asmir BegovicGoalkeeper
3Erik PietersDefender
12Marc WilsonDefender
17Ryan ShawcrossDefender
20Geoff CameronDefender
6Glenn WhelanMidfielder
15Steven N'ZonziMidfielder
10Marko ArnautovicStriker
19Jonathan WaltersStriker
24Oussama AssaidiStriker
25Peter CrouchStriker
29Thomas SørensenGoalkeeper
5MuniesaDefender
28Andy WilkinsonDefender
7Jermaine PennantMidfielder
8W. PalaciosMidfielder
16Charlie AdamMidfielder
9Kenwyne JonesStriker
1Bradley GuzanGoalkeeper
2Nathan BakerDefender
6Ciaran ClarkDefender
34Matthew LowtonDefender
12Marc AlbrightonMidfielder
15Ashley WestwoodMidfielder
16Fabian DelphMidfielder
17Chris HerdMidfielder
24Alexandar TonevMidfielder
10Andreas WeimannStriker
27Libor KozákStriker
13Jed SteerGoalkeeper
14LunaDefender
7Leandro BacunaMidfielder
8Karim El AhmadiMidfielder
18Yacouba SyllaMidfielder
9Nicklas HeleniusStriker
21Jordan Nathaniel BoweryStriker
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