Mid-table sides Stoke City and Aston Villa meet at the Britannia Stadium aiming to move into the top half of the Premier League.
Scoring goals has been the biggest problem for Stoke all season, who missed out on the chance to make the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup on Wednesday with a fairly tame performance against Manchester United. However, the Premier League is their main priority, and a run of three games without defeat has helped them move five points clear of danger.
Paul Lambert will be hoping for his Aston Villa side to respond from two disappointing displays against Fulham and Manchester United, where they conceded five goals without reply. Christian Benteke’s goal drought is a growing concern, with the Belgian looking nothing like the player who netted 19 times in the Premier League last season. Their away form has generally been good, but throughout the campaign, results have been very inconsistent.
Stoke are hoping that Ryan Shawcross will be fit enough to start after being forced off against Man Utd, with fellow centre-back Robert Huth still recovering from knee surgery.
Villa captain Ron Vlaar is doubtful, while Jores Okore and Joe Bennett are both out through injury. Gabriel Agbonlahor serves a one-match ban after amassing five yellow cards.
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