Aston Villa Focus – Villains eye change in style in order to overcome Stoke test

Aston Villa come into their home game against Stoke this Saturday on a run of decent results following a three match unbeaten run. During that run, Christian Benteke has once more impressed, as he has done throughout the season so far. To succeed against Stoke however, Villa may well need to change their style of play if they are to continue that good form.

It has been direct football that has led to Villa’s recent success, with Christian Benteke leading the Aston Villa line superbly. Grabbing the winner in the vital home match against Reading, he was also a menace throughout both matches against Arsenal and QPR. His physical presence and threat in the air was there but this threat will almost certainly be nullified against a Stoke team who know all about aerial battles. Stoke centre backs Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth are commanding players, and have fought off much stronger and much more experienced centre forwards than Benteke, and high balls up to the young Belgian will be exactly what the strong partnership will be hoping for.

If Villa are to play their way through Stoke, then a lot may come down to youngster Ashley Westwood, who has settled into the team very well since his first start in the win away to Sunderland. Since then he has been an ever present for Villa, his ability in keeping possession a huge asset to a very inexperienced Aston Villa midfield. Manager Paul Lambert had this to say regarding the young starlet:

“He was a captain at Crewe and played a lot of games in men’s football before he came here, so he knew what it was about. I trust people to go and play, to give everything they have got, and he has not let me down. If you look at the stats regarding his passing they are terrific, something like 91% success rate and he never gives the ball away. He’s been exceptional.”

It may be a lot to ask for the youngster to be the key to Villa winning against Stoke, but Lambert has been asking a lot from his young players all season. His style of management is to give youngsters a chance to prove themselves, and they will have that chance once more against a Stoke side who have been in impressive form of late, grabbing three victories in their last four matches. Villa’s youngsters may not have great experience, but their determination and effort cannot be questioned, and they will need that effort once more to defeat Stoke this Saturday at Villa Park.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Aston Villa v Stoke

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