The Potters registered their eighth clean sheet of the season as neither side offered anything to inspire during an uneventful draw, while Ryan Shotton was sent off in injury timeIt was billed as a contest between the two form sides of the Premier League, but Aston Villa could only hold visiting Stoke to a goalless draw when the two sides met at Villa Park on Saturday.
Both teams came into the encounter unbeaten in three league matches, but could only play out a 0-0 draw – the fourth draw in a row between these two sides.
To the delight of the home fans, Villa began splendidly, forcing an early corner after barely a minute’s play and going on to enjoy 70% of possession in the opening 10 minutes.
Christian Benteke imposed himself to hold the ball up to good effect early on for the hosts and Tony Pulis’ men barely got a look in for the duration of the first half.
But the home side’s frantic early pace soon settled and the prospect of a bore draw became more inevitable by the minute.
Paul Lambert’s men have struggled for goals this season – notching just 12 in total so far, and for all their dominance, any early threat of a football match breaking out soon disappeared with a whimper.
After an uneventful conclusion to the opening half, the hosts were determined to begin the second period as quickly as they had the first, but Benteke hit a weak volley straight at the grateful Asmir Begovic after being played in by Kyle Lowton.
Five minutes later, Villa applied the greatest amount of pressure so far, peppering the Stoke goal with shots and crosses in abundance and also having a penalty appeal turned down after Gabriel Agbonlahor was brought to the ground.
Sixty-six minutes in, Lambert, it seems, had finally given in. On came number nine Darren Bent.
And the England international’s willingness to get forward was evident from the off, yet now it was no longer a case of the wrong personnel but rather inadequate service to the front man.
Ten minutes later, Crouch came on against his old club as Pulis showed his first signs of going for all three points.
But, alas, it was to no avail as both sides played out an uneventful draw and Stoke saw Ryan Shotton get sent off in injury time.
Impressively, this was Stoke’s eighth clean sheet of the season. But for Paul Lambert and his lackluster Villa side, four games unbeaten will never have seemed so disappointing.