Two clubs with only a single win, two under pressure managers, and two anxious groups of fans. Stoke City and Aston Villa have quite a few similarities this season, even down to the one team they both have managed to beat - Bournemouth. We all know that three points would be a huge results for Sherwood and Villa, but to get a sense of how Stoke City fans are feeling, we sat down with Elliot from The Bear Pit TV.
Both of our clubs have beaten Bournemouth this season. And...that's it. A couple draws here and there, and Stoke and Villa sit 17th and 18th, respectively. So here's the question. Which side is worse off? Is there even a winner here?
TBP: Being brutally honest, I would say you. A lot of our issues can be put down to Shawcross being missing, but he will soon return and solidify our defence. We're always slow starters under Hughes, it soon picks up.
The similarities between these teams is pretty astounding. Both have had bright spots, but can't seem to put together a solid 90 minutes. From what I've read, a lot of fans are questioning Hughes tactics, half-time talks, and substitutions, which sounds oddly familiar to us Villa fans. What are your thoughts on Mark Hughes? Are Stoke City fans as displeased with him as Villa fans are with Tim Sherwood?
TBP: The only issue I had with Hughes is when we went to Arsenal and tried an untested formation, which seemed baffling. He soon realised the mistake after 10 minutes and reverted to our normal formation, but it seemed odd. I have no idea what's actually being said at half-time so I can't comment there. People are concerned that we never really got a replacement for Shawcross during the period he's missing for, and that's what's affected us, and it seemed pretty obvious.
This isn't the physical Stoke team of old - Hughes spent the summer recruiting creative, technical players like Afellay, Joselu, and Shaqiri. How has this new philosophy been received by the fans?
TBP: We're all still 100% behind the philosophy that's been instilled since Hughes arrived. Although none of the new 'flair' signings have yet really made a big impact. Joselu did well at Spurs winning a penalty but has then had his appearances severely limited. Afellay's start has been marred by his red card against WBA, and Shaqiri has been featuring regularly but I personally think is yet to grasp the Premier League.
Jack Butland has filled in admirably for the departed Asmir Begovic, but it seems the club has yet to figure out how to replace Steve N'Zonzi. While all the new attacking players are exciting, it puts a bit more pressure on the central midfielders. Is anyone going to step up in the centre of the park?
TBP: After Shawcross the other issue is how to replace that N'Zonzi shaped hole we have. We got Van Ginkel in on loan but he's still learning to adjust to the task we're asking him to do, and I think he will get there, eventually. But last weekend he was dropped and Charlie Adam stepped in to do the job, and he did well. It may just take time, but I think Van Ginkel will eventually be able to do that job.
If you could have any player from the current Villa squad, who would it be?
TBP: For me it would be a toss up between Micah Richards and Jack Grealish. Micah to come in and fill that whole currently being left by Shawcross, or Grealish for the young and promising talent he has. Grealish probably shades it for me because it looks like he has a bright future ahead, which unfortunately may end up being away from Villa if he carries on!
Is there any way this game DOESN'T end in an ugly draw which Match of the Day will squeeze in the last 30 seconds only to remind everyone that there was an actual football match played?
TBP: Probably not, but the antics of Tim Sherwood could always help propel the game up the running order.
Our thanks to Elliot for taking the time to answer our questions! Be sure to check out The Bear Pit TV's YouTube channel for some fantastic preview and reaction videos, and the odd player interview as well!