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West Ham United
March 23, 2014
• 12:00 PM
• Villa Park, Birmingham
Referee: M. Clattenburg
• Attendance: 30292
C. Benteke 5'
P. Odemwingie 22'
P. Crouch 26'
S. N'Zonzi 42'
G. Cameron 90'
Thank you for joining me today. I hope you have enjoyed the action; I know I did! I have been Ryan Benson and I bid you farewell.
90' + 5'
FULL-TIME! Stoke pick up only their second away win of the league season and they have done so in emphatic fashion. The full-time whistle was met by lots of boos from the home fans, but Stoke will be delighted with an irresistible display. Benteke may have got the opening goal for the hosts, but the away side eventually took over thanks to goals from Odemwingie, Crouch, N'Zonzi and Cameron. To cap things off, this is the first time Stoke have ever scored four goals in an away match in the Premier League as they effectively secure their place in the top-flight for another season.
90' + 4'
Unsurprisingly, Stoke's fourth goal was greeted with even more Villa fans leaving flocking towards the exits. After last week's triumph over Chelsea, this is quite a come-down.
90' + 2'
The officials have confirmed that there will be five minutes of stoppage time played.
GOAL!!! Game over at Villa Park as Stoke get themselves a fourth! Cameron makes amends for his role in Villa's opener by confidently passing into the net, but this goal was all about Arnautovic's assist as he darted past Bacuna with a step-over before cutting a precise pass back to the American for an easy finish.
Bacuna steps up to the free-kick and goes straight for goal, but the effort sails comfortably wide of Begovic's right-hand post. It probably would have been wiser to play a cross into the area.
Holt wins Villa a free-kick about 35 yards from goal as he is unfairly man-handled by Shawcross, who does his best to protest the obvious decision without laughing.
With just five minutes plus stoppage time remaining, many of the home fans have left the ground. There are now lots of empty blue seats visible to the naked eye, with Villa fans clearly resigned to defeat.
Yellow CardNathan Baker
Baker becomes the fifth Villa player to earn a yellow card today. N'Zonzi produced a clever bit of skill as he played the ball over the defender's head before attempting to collect it, but he is tripped up before he can regain possession.
Crucial interception by Baker as he volleys the ball clear just when Odemwingie looked set to latch on to Crouch's looped pass and shoot on goal. It really would have been all over had the visitors netted a fourth.
Yellow CardLeandro Bacuna
Bacuna's name is the latest to go into the referee's book as he produces a cynical tackle from behind on Arnautovic, who attempted to shield the ball.
Muniesa is involved almost immediately as Albrighton breezes past the 21-year-old before crossing from the right, but neither Holt or Benteke can reach the delivery.
Pieters can no longer continue and he is replaced by former Barcelona youngster Marc Muniesa, who will fill in at left-back for the remainder of this match, despite being a natural centre-back.
Stoke may be down to ten men momentarily, but Villa aren't giving them any respite. They are pouring men forward, but still to little avail. The decision to introduce Holt into a team who haven't been able to even supply Benteke seems a little desperate.
Pieters appears to be in pain now after a fairly innocuous clash with Albrighton. He is being helped off the pitch, hobbling towards the bench. His day may be over.
Final throw of the dice for Lambert as he brings on Grant Holt, with the former Norwich favourite coming on for holding-midfielder Westwood. They are going all-out for this now, with two men in attack.
Yellow CardMarc Albrighton
Yellow card for Albrighton as he gives Palacios a nasty kick on the back of his right leg as the former Tottenham man spins away while receiving a pass. It was a frustrated-looking challenge.
Vlaar is involved again, this time in his own area and he nearly made a calamitous mistake. The defender tries to shield the ball back to Guzan, but the keeper stays grounded and Odemwingie looks set to steal the ball. Both players end up in a heap on the ground and Vlaar gets a free-kick, rather luckily.
Lambert's men try to work a clever corner routine and Vlaar ultimately heads just over the crossbar, but the referee brings play back for an offside.
With Villa on the attack, there are tentative claims for handball just outside the Stoke area as N'Zonzi appears to be struck on the arm by the ball, but play is waved on. It would have been harsh.
Baker seems to have been told to really get at Crouch in this second half. On numerous occasions he has been perhaps a little too attentive to the England international and this time the defender is finally penalised on the half-way line.
Great strike by Odemwingie! The Nigerian looks to be really enjoying his football again these days and he nearly got his second goal of the match as he cut in from the left and let fly with a ferocious left-footed drive, but Guzan palmed it away.
The frustration is clearly growing amongst Villa players and fans alike. The Stoke supporters, however. They're in great voice as their side look destined to pick up only their second away win of the Premier League season.
The home side really can't do much right at the moment. A period of possession is wasted this time by Delph, who attempted to find an eye-of-the-needle pass in behind the defence for Agbonlahor, but he played the ball straight to Cameron. Judging by the midfielder's performance today, calls for him to be included in the England World Cup squad will go unanswered.
Decent chance for Stoke from a corner. The set-piece is played deep into the area and Shawcross wins a clean header, directing the ball towards the far post where Crouch is waiting. However, Vlaar crucially intercepts with a header of his own.
Villa opt to take a short free-kick and Delph then proceeds to cross from deep, but his delivery is pretty dreadful and Begovic claims with ease. And so, the poor service into Benteke continues.
Good opportunity to create something here as Bertrand draws a foul from Odemwingie in an advanced position on the left wing. The hosts may be able to work an opening with this.
If Villa are to get back into this, a key aspect they will need to improve upon is supplying Benteke. Although they have seen plenty of the ball, the Belgian forward has hardly had any service. Delph has been very quiet as well.
Yellow CardChristian Benteke
Villa certainly seem to have a renewed urgency about their play early in this second half, but their need to attack and search for goals is leaving them mightily exposed at the back. They may well score to get back into this, but you wouldn't bet against Stoke finding the net again.
Sloppy play by Bertrand as he passes straight to Odemwingie. The forward marches down the wing, before cutting back on himself to retain possession. After exchanging passes with N'Zonzi, he crosses into the area, but Guzan plucks it out of the air.
Well, that was a bit of a waste. Arnautovic completes his run-up and looks a curl a delivery into the danger area, but his kick goes straight into the Villa wall. Let-off for the hosts.
Good feet by Arnautovic as he cuts in from the left, skipping past Bacuna and earning a free-kick from the Dutchman. He gets up and lines the kick up himself just inside from the left flank.
We are barely two minutes into the second half and the Stoke fans are already greeting every one of their team's passes with shouts of "ole". Villa will be hoping they can silence them as soon as possible.
Villa restart the action as the second half gets underway.
HALF-TIME! The referee blows his whistle to end what ended up being a rather miserable first half for Villa, despite starting rather well. Benteke's opener in the sixth minute gave Lambert's men the perfect opening, but Stoke since fought back with goals from Odemwingie, Crouch and N'Zonzi. One of these managers has quite a lot of work to do at half-time!
Three minutes of stoppage time will be played, but will it be enough for the hosts to halve the deficit before the break?
This is starting to get a little embarrassing for Villa now. For the first 20 minutes they were excellent, but since then they have been pretty terrible, particularly at the back.
GOAL!!! Stoke get a third! Arnautovic plays a clever pass in towards the edge of the area from and Baker's heavy first touch allows the ball to land kindly for N'Zonzi, who lashes into the bottom-left corner from 20 yards out.
Not long until the break now. Villa are pushing forward in an attempt to find a late equaliser, but they are struggling to break through the visitors' resolute back line.
Villa with the corner this time after winning it out of very little down the left flank. Begovic collects the set-piece with ease, however, and subsequently takes his time about releasing the ball.
Good delivery from the corner, but the only player to get a touch on it is Sylla, who inadvertently flicks the ball into the danger zone with his head. Villa escape unscathed, though.
Good play again by Pieters. The Dutch defender latches on to Arnautovic's pass down the flank, battles against Bacuna and charges into the area. He is tackled eventually, but wins a corner in the process.
The home side are growing frustrated now and Sylla commits his first foul since entering the fray. Pieters quickly shifted the ball away from the midfielder, drawing a foul on the left flank.
Karim El Ahmadi
Villa finally make the expected decision to replace El Ahmadi with Sylla, but, surprisingly, Weimann also makes way. The Austrian appears to be complaining about a dead leg and Albrighton takes his place.
Villa come alive once again and produce a well-crafted move. Benteke drops deep - a recurring theme in this first half - and links well with Agbonlahor. The English forward bears down on the Stoke area, but he fires wide of the target.
It has been a bad ten minutes or so for Villa. They are struggling to put together meaningful strings of passes and Stoke are looking clinical going forward.
More bad news for Lambert as El Ahmadi pulls up with what appears to be a thigh strain when chasing a loose ball. It doesn't look as though he will be able to continue.
GOAL!!! Stoke have turned this match on its head! Villa's corner came to nothing and the visitors were quick to launch a counterattack. Erik Pieters did brilliantly to hold off Bacuna and then beat the defender, before cutting a pin-point pass back to Crouch, who coolly slotted past Guzan.
Decent delivery from Delph, but the curling free-kick is flicked behind for a corner as Shawcross just about gets his head on the ball. Will they waste this corner as well?
Yellow CardWilson Palacios
Cynical foul by Palacios as the Honduran hauls Agbonlahor down after the forward laid a pass off to a team-mate. Villa now have a free-kick slightly over the left, about 30 yards from goal.
GOAL!!! Stoke level the score at Villa Park! Crouch did well to flick a long-ball on towards the penalty area and Odemwingie burst on to it, into the area and squeezed an effort under Guzan.
The corner is not a particularly great one, but Stoke are still on the attack. This is easily their best spell of the match so far as they are showing far more attacking emphasis.
Very close from Odemwingie! The Nigerian twisted and turned just outside the Villa area and his eventual shot is deflected narrowly wide, hitting the sidenetting. Corner-kick nonetheless.
Good patient hold-up play by Arnautovic on Stoke's left wing as he holds off Bacuna and then rides a challenge from El Ahmadi. However, he is unable to find an offensive-minded pass and the attack somewhat peters out.
Lovely football down the left by Villa. Bertrand and Delph appear to have lost possession, but it is stolen back and they link-up well. Eventually the full-back is played just inside the area and he hammers a low ball across the goal's face, but no one can turn it in.
Stoke are looking a little more settled at the moment as they put Villa under more pressure when the hosts are in possession, but Mark Hughes' men aren't offering much of a threat in attack.
After seeking medical attention, Agbonlahor is back on the pitch and jogging about. He's not moving particularly freely, however. That'll be a sore one tomorrow.
Agbonlahor appears to be in some pain here after taking a knee to his lower back, courtesy of Cameron. The American defender escapes a booking, but only just. He didn't make much of an attempt to play the ball.
Stoke create their first real opening of the day as Odemwingie cuts across the final third of the pitch. He spots the penalty area-bound run of Arnautovic, but he delays the pass for too long and the Austrian is offside when he eventually gets possession. He tells Odemwingie exactly what he thought of that too.
The corner comes to absolutely nothing as Stoke are fairly quick to clear their lines in a relatively comfortable manner. That was a bit of a waste from a Villa perspective.
Encouraging move again by the hosts. Delph is caught in possession, but he is quick to steal it back again and feed Bacuna in to his right. The full-back crosses from deep, but Benteke can't quite reach it and they settle for a corner.
Yellow CardKarim El Ahmadi
Nasty tackle by El Ahmadi on Crouch, jumping in with both feet in the air, taking the forward out from behind. He deservedly gets booked, but that could have easily been a red-card offence.
Stoke will be desperate to strike back as soon as possible, but their away form in the league this season won't give them much inspiration, having recorded just the solitary win on the road.
And there is why Delph has been highlighted as a threat. The former Leeds man tears down the left, skipping past Cameron before crossing, but the delivery is a little too deep. Encouraging nonetheless.
GOAL!!! Villa take the lead! Delph was involved once again as he cleverly rolled his marker before showing great awareness to cut a pass back to Benteke, who emphatically fired into the net. Great start for the hosts.
Even with just a few minutes played, it already seems clear that Whelan will be keeping a short leash on Delph today. Obviously Stoke were impressed with the midfielder's goal-scoring display against Chelsea last weekend.
Off we go. Stoke start the action kicking from right-to-left.
The teams are now out on the pitch, with kick-off just a few minutes away at Villa Park.
Five of the last eight Premier League encounters between these two sides have ended in draws, with Villa picking up just the one win. This season, however, Stoke have only managed to earn seven points; winning once and drawing four times.
Stoke, meanwhile, have played three times in the league this month and they have not been beaten in any of them. A draw at Norwich was sandwiched between wins against Arsenal and West Ham United. Like Villa, they go into the match on 34 points and a win for either side will effectively secure their Premier League status for another year.
Villa have won both of their two games so far this month, hammering manager Paul Lambert's former side Norwich City 4-1 before a surprising 1-0 triumph over Chelsea last weekend. They will be confident once again today as they look to consolidate their place in 10th.
Not so long ago, these two sides both looked in trouble towards the bottom of the table. However, good showings in March have helped move them back up towards the middle of the standings.
Stoke subs: Sorensen, Muniesa, Guidetti, Shea, Wilkinson, Shotton, Ward.
And the Stoke line-up is: Begovic; Pieters, Shawcross, Wilson, Cameron; Arnautovic, Palacios, Whelan, Nzonzi, Odemwingie; Crouch.
Villa subs: Steer, Sylla, Holt, Clark, Albrighton, Bennett, Robinson.
First of all; the teams. Aston Villa's starting XI is: Guzan; Bacuna, Westwood, Vlaar, Bertrand; Baker, El Ahmadi, Delph; Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor.
Good afternoon and welcome to the LIVE text commentary of the Premier League meeting between Aston Villa and Stoke City at Villa Park. My name is Ryan Benson and I shall be describing the action for you today.
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