Aston Villa boss Remi Garde has called on his players to prove their hammering at home to Liverpool was “an accident” when they face Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.
A 6-0 home loss last time out ensured Villa remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League with only three wins from 26 matches and an eight-point gap to safety.
History is not on Garde’s side if he is hoping to see a late-season turnaround. No team with Villa’s current tally of 16 points or fewer at this stage of a campaign has ever finished above bottom spot in the table.
The Frenchman does not expect things to get any easier away to 10th-placed Stoke, but wants to see an immediate reaction from his players, two weeks on from the damaging loss against Jurgen Klopp’s men.
“It would have been good to play straight away after the heavy Liverpool defeat,” Garde said at his pre-match media conference.
“The fixture was not there so we had to adapt. Every manager has to work on confidence and I try in many ways. Before Liverpool it was a good spell of games.
“Liverpool was, for me, a huge accident with individual failures and I don’t want the players to forget what we did previously before that game.
“Stoke is a strong side. They have talented players, especially up front. We know it will be difficult. We will have to defend much better than we did against Liverpool.”
Stoke’s 3-1 win at AFC Bournemouth last time out was their first victory in five league games, but they will be hopeful of recording back-to-back triumphs by beating a Villa team that is winless in 12 away games, losing nine.
Forward Bojan Krkic, though, is wary of underestimating the strugglers due to their desperation for points.
“It is true Aston Villa have not got the results they will have expected and it’s been an incredibly difficult season for such an historic club,” he told Potters Mag.
“We faced a very demanding match when we played against them at Villa Park earlier this season [a 1-0 win in October] – it wasn’t an easy match at all – so we expect the exact same when they come to our place on Saturday.
“They are in an urgent position and need wins, so they will want the points at the weekend.
“They have the players and the will to win this match if we aren’t at the top of our game, so we have to show them the respect that they deserve. We always respect our opponents.”
Stoke will check on Phil Bardsley (hip), Marc Muniesa (hamstring) and captain Ryan Shawcross (back) ahead of the game, while Geoff Cameron (ankle) and Glen Johnson (knee) are likely to miss out.
Rudy Gestede (hamstring) is fit to play for the visitors, but Jack Grealish, Libor Kozak (both ankle), Adama Traore (foot) and Carlos Sanchez (hamstring) are all out.
Key Opta stats:
– Stoke City have won four and lost one of the last five Barclays Premier League games against Aston Villa.
– Going further back, the Potters have lost just two of the last 12 Premier League contests against the Villans (W5 D5 L2).
– Villa have now lost more games than any other team in Premier League history (322) as well as having drawn the most (274).
– Stoke and Villa have failed to score in a joint-high 11 Premier League matches this season (also equal with Newcastle).
– Villa have the lowest chance conversion rate in the Premier League in 2015-16, scoring with just 10 per cent of their shots.
– This is Stoke’s joint-highest points haul after 26 Premier League games along with last season (36).