English Premier League – Match Preview: Stoke City vs. Aston Villa
Aston Villa is all set to take on Stoke City in their 4th league match of the English Premier League season. Villa lately came out of a torrid run of form under their former caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald, who was in-charge of the club’s reserve side before taking over from Martin O’Neill as the first team manager on a temporary basis.
In their first three English Premier League matches, Villa succeeded in getting three points on two occasions. In their first league match of the season, Aston Villa dominated West Ham United at Villa Park and ended up as eventual winners by 4-0. However, the Birmingham club has seen some bad results in the Europa League qualification matches due to which they are no longer eligible for participation in the European competitions group stages.
In their first leg of the qualification round against Rapid Vienna, Villa only recorded a draw. In their return leg at Villa Park, Rapid Vienna gained an unlikely win against a strong Aston Villa side. Before this match took place, Villa played Newcastle United in the English Premier League on the preceding weekend, only to be dealt a heavy defeat by 6-0. It should be remembered that Newcastle are one of the newly promoted teams and their triumph over Villa came as a huge surprise to everyone involved with English football.
After their self destruction in the English Premier League and the Europa League, Villa’s caretaker manager was under pressure to produce a result in Aston Villa’s last league match against Everton. The squad pulled together for the Villains as Aston Villa ended up as winners by only a single goal. According to latest news, Villa has finally found a permanent manager for themselves in Gerard Houllier. In doing so, they have parted ways with Kevin MacDonald, who was blamed for Villa’s wretched results so far in the 2010-2011 season.
On the other hand, Villa’s to-be opponents on the coming weekend Stoke City did some fantastic business on the deadline day of the summer transfer window. They managed to secure former Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant from the Spanish League side Real Zaragoza. Pennant was once a renowned winger who is now known for his ability to cross the ball and dribble past opposition’s players.
However, in the past three or so years, Pennant has faded away from his glory days and his move to Stoke has been seen by many as an attempt to rekindle a once promising career. Stoke approached the match amidst reports of their manager considering his future at the Potters. Tony Pulis has been linked to the Welsh national team management job through some media speculation. Wales are believed to be ready to relieve John Toshack of his job as the national team manager after the team’s abysmal performances in the EURO 2012 qualification rounds.
Stoke have had an unsavory start to their league campaign as well. They lost their last English Premier League match before the international break kicked in to Chelsea. Chelsea completely outplayed the Potters and secured a comfortable 2-0 win over Tony Pulis’s men. Stoke also lost their second league match of the season to Tottenham Hotspurs but that encounter was surrounded by controversy as Stoke were denied a goal which their players believed to be a perfectly legitimate strike.
Last time these two English clubs faced each other in the Premier League was on 10th March, 2010 in the 2009-2010 English Premier League season.
It will be interesting to see how Stoke cope with Villa’s prominent wing play but most importantly it will be crucial for Houllier to start off his reign as the Villa manager with a win against the lowly rated Stoke side. Anything but a result from this match can harm Villa’s bid to qualify for the Europa League in the 2011-2012 club football season.