Aston Villa travel to the Britannia Stadium to face Stoke City in the Premier League on Saturday desperately seeking a win to try and make back some of the deficit to safety. The relegation-threatened Midlands outfit are low on confidence after having suffered a 6-0 drubbing at home to Liverpool in their last league outing, but are looking to take advantage of Stoke’s poor form of late, as well as their injury crisis. Do the Villans stand a chance?
Fan vitriol might see a response from the squad
Prior to the Liverpool result, Remi Garde’s side were in decent league form. They had picked up two wins and two draws from their last five games, but were sent crashing back down to earth nearly a fortnight ago. The tension between supporters and players hit a new high, and a walkout protest is expected during the match as a result. The squad know a response is expected and they are sure to raise their effort levels, but Stoke’s patched up defence might give them confidence of a result.
The Potters have a lot of injuries to their defence ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash, with the likes of Glen Johnson (knee), Marc Wilson (knee), Geoff Cameron (ankle), Phillip Bardsley (leg), Marc Muniesa (hamstring) and Ryan Shawcross (back) all potentially out of action. Manager Mark Hughes is expected to rush a couple of players back for Saturday’s game, but they will be far from fully match-fit, so a combination of pace and power in the Villa attack could see them breached.
Can Villa take advantage of Stoke’s depleted defence?
Gabriel Agbonlahor provides exactly that, and if passed fit to play he could spearhead the attack. Garde will also mull over Rudy Gestede’s place in the team, with the French striker having struggled to perform since his summer move from Blackburn Rovers, but he would be a real aerial threat against Stoke so he has his uses. Villa also have a decent record at the Britannia Stadium, having won in the league in two of their last three meetings there, and they need a result now more than ever.
Stoke are coming off the back of three defeats from their last four in the league, while having conceded 1o goals in the process too. Victory for Villa could see Garde’s men narrow the deficit to five points with 11 games to go, but defeat could see them 11 points adrift and all but relegated in truth. This might be one of the most important games in their recent history. Aston Villa are 5/1 to win against Stoke City this weekend, but can they deliver at the Britannia Stadium?