Aston Villa v Stoke City
Sunday 1 March 2009,
Aston Villa lost 1-0 at home to Chelsea in their last league outing, ending a brilliant run of thirteen league matches without a loss.
In their last five matches, Aston Villa have won three (vs Blackburn, Portsmouth and Sunderland), drawn one (vs Wigan) and lost one (vs Chelsea), earning themselves 10 points from the 15 on offer.
Villa scored five goals and conceded two in these matches, and they currently are sitting 4th in the league, one point below 3rd placed Chelsea and five points clear of 5th placed Arsenal.
Aston Villa will be without Bouma (ankle) and Laursen (knee), although Nigel Reo-Coker may be fit for this match.
Stoke City drew 2-2 at home against Portsmouth in their last league encounter.
In their last five matches, Stoke have won one (v Manchester City), drawn one (v Portsmouth) and lost three (v Sunderland, Tottenham and Chelsea), earning four points from the last fifteen on offer.
The Potters scored five goals and conceded nine in these matches, and they currently find themselves in 17th position in the league, two points above the relegation zone and 18th placed Blackburn, and three points behind 14th, 15th and 16th placed Spurs, Newcastle and Portsmouth respectively.
Stoke will be without Fuller (shoulder) and Kelly (hamstring), although Leon Cort may be recovered from injury. Stoke will also be without Matthew Etherington and Rory Delap due to red card suspensions for violent conduct.
Stoke defeated Aston Villa 3-2 earlier in this season at home in the teams’ 2nd match of the season.
Aston Villa find themselves in brilliant form as of late, and should not be too affected by their UEFA Cup 2nd-leg away match against Spartak Moscow on Thursday, as manager Martin O’Neill will be resting eight first-team players after telling the press that "chasing a top-four spot to get a Champions League place is everything".
As such, the in-form Aston Villa squad should go into this match as strong favourites for victory, with a Stoke team currently holding the worst away record in the league unlikely to pose too much of a threat.
Read all the weekend previews here.