Despite Aston Villa being in a bit of bad form since the surprising win at Southampton, they do have one thing going for them that Saturday's opponents Stoke City do not: a rested squad. Stoke lost a hard fought match in the hail on Wednesday to Manchester United in the League Cup.
Captain and vice captain Ron Vlaar and Gabriel Agbonlahor are set to miss this match however, through injury and suspension respectively, but Fabian Delph should return to the lineup to provide a boost to the midfield. Now this Stoke City side is still tricky to break down, especially at the Britannia, but have not been as tough under Mark Hughes as they have been in recent memory under Tony Pulis. They have won three home fixtures, most recently 3-2 against Chelsea, so you can't say that they are a side that easy work could be made of. But having played a nearly full strength side in the League Cup defeat could see their squad stretched.
Aside from players missing the match for Villa, there are other issues like failing to score goals. So far this campaign, the Villans have recorded 6 fewer goals than last season at the same point. This is due in part to the inconsistent recent form of Christian Benteke, but not all of the blame can be lumped on him. Other players need to step up and score goals, particularly forward Andreas Weimann and some of the team's midfielders and defenders. For this reason, I think that Weimann should start up front alone with Benteke coming off the bench. Another problem was that during last Sunday's match against Manchester United was that Antonio Luna was skinned the entire game by Antonio Valencia. Not that Stoke City have an incredibly formidable attack, but Luna's confidence may have taken a hit from that and needs more help from the midfield. Therefore playing Bacuna ahead of him (and yes I know Bacuna is right-footed) would help with some of the defensive duties as well as just keeping a tighter team defense since only one striker would be deployed.
Here is the formation/lineup that I would go with if I were Paul Lambert.
Do you think this would be a good choice? What formation/lineup would you go with? Let us know in the comments!
- Villa in Four Numbers: Villa aren't that good at coming from behind
- Betting Recap: Mixed Results, Mostly Bad
- Recapping Aston Villa's defeat against Man United and looking to Stoke
- Instant reaction to Villa's loss to Man. United: The Hollow Team
- Aston Villa vs. Manchester United: Lineups and open match thread