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    Aston Villa vs Stoke City Match Preview

    Tim Sherwood & Mark Hughes seen here exchanging pleasantries before the corresponding fixture in February.
    Mark Hughes will lead his side out tomorrow for an away fixture that has proved a happy hunting ground for Stoke City. In five visits Stoke have averaged 1.43 points per game in the Premier League at Villa Park & that is only bettered by their average away to West Bromwich Albion. When these two sides last met at Villa Park in February it was Tim Sherwood's first game in charge at Villa, which ended in last minute defeat after Victor Moses, who is now enjoying a loan spell at West Ham United won & subsequently dispatched a 90th minute penalty.

    Between them they have collected only two wins from fourteen Premier League games this season, with both of those wins coming against newly promoted Bournemouth. Stoke go into the fixture 17th in the table & in uncharted waters for them at this stage of the season. Aston Villa on the other hand are a place below Stoke & two points worse off than tomorrows opponents. They are in more familiar surroundings having become perennial strugglers for the past few seasons. Their similar standing in the league table will only add to what is a vital fixture for both.

    Villa, since winning on the opening day of the season have taken a solitary point in six league games whilst in the process conceding an average of two goals per game. If they lose for the fourth consecutive league game it will equal their worst start to the season & the omens don't look encouraging. The visitors have taken wins back to the Britannia from losing positions from consecutive trips to Villa Park & have only experienced defeat at the same ground once in seven Premier League encounters. Managers, like players always have fond memories of certain away stadiums & Mark Hughes stressed that point ahead of the game.

    "We have produced some really pleasing stuff [referring to Villa Park] during our previous visits, and we can take heart from that.

    "We picked up our first win in the league last weekend and now we want to build upon that and sign off for the international break unbeaten in four.

    "We were pleased with how things went last week, taking four points from two games and beating Fulham in the cup, so we are in good spirits at the moment."

    Also in good spirits in the clubs leading scorer this season Mame Biram Diouf who scored the equaliser in this fixture back in February. His headed goal last week at home gave Stoke that first league win & he has five goals in his last seven Premier League matches. The last time the Potters won away in the league was at Villa & despite the heroic efforts of goalkeeper Jack Butland they are still one of only four Premier League sides yet to keep a clean sheet this season so this encounter should provide lots of entertainment from an attacking point of view.

    Having been replaced last week by Ibrahim Afellay in the victory over Bournemouth Xherdan Shaqiri is unlikely to feature with a thigh strain & the experienced Marc Wilson is also expected to miss consecutive games with a calf problem that meant that Philipp Wollscheid took his starting place last week. The positives are that Diouf who scored at Villa Park eight months ago should be fit to start & that another goal will lead to another happy away day at Villa for Stoke City.

    Prediction:

    Aston Villa 2 - 3 Stoke City
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    Item Reviewed: Aston Villa vs Stoke City Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Bola Williams
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