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Preview: Gestede the key man as Villa clash with Stoke

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Rudy Gestede caused Stoke City problems the last time he played them, with Blackburn, in the FA Cup. Can he do the same again?

Rudy Gestede of Blackburn scores their second goal from the penalty spot during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City at Ewood Park on February 14, 2015 in Blackburn, England.
Rudy Gestede of Blackburn scores their second goal from the penalty spot during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City at Ewood Park on February 14, 2015 in Blackburn, England.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

DISCLAIMER: I did not watch a single minute of Saturday’s game against Liverpool. I rolled over when my alarm went off at 10 a.m., saw James Milner scored before I could get a stream up, and went back to sleep.

I have not commented on a post on this site in over a month. Villa are draining life out of me… quickly.

Now we have to play Stoke.

At least they play football now.

What to know about Aston Villa

[insert Michael Scott NO .gif here]

I don’t want to talk about this team any more. I really don’t.

Villa will play to Rudy Gestede’s strengths once again this weekend, and while I’m not completely sold on it, it’s what we’ve got going right now.

Never mind Villa spent more money on Jordan Ayew, Jordan Veretout and Idrissa Gueye, but hey, it’s whatever.

Expect Jordan Amavi and whoever plays right back — probably Alan Hutton — to be instrumental for Villa if they’re going to have success.

You know about Villa though. We’re pretty damn frustrating right now.

For once, Tim Sherwood might have had the right tactical plan Saturday — but the squad screwed that up within 66 seconds. Can both groups show up from the first minute this week?

Only time will tell.

What to know about Stoke City

They signed Xherdan Shaqiri in the summer transfer window.

Why?

His last three clubs have been Basel, Bayern and Inter. Basel, Munich and Milan are all nice places.

Why would you trade them for Stoke?

In actual footballing news, he’s an injury doubt after picking up a knock at the weekend, so for Villa’s sake, it would be nice if he failed his late fitness test.

I haven’t watched a minute of Stoke this year to be honest, but I’ve seen some commentary about their struggles being tied to mismanagement from Mark Hughes rather than the actual on-field product.

That sounds familiar!

I’m not quite sure stats agree — while the expected goals total say Villa’s goal differential should be around 0, it also says Stoke should be four in the hole at this point.

Villa’s -4, a big departure, but Stoke are arguably outplaying their xGD with just a -3 differential.

Only three other sides have a worse schedule-adjusted xGD to this point — West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle United and Sunderland — which spells good news for Villa.

But we’ve also gotten one point from two games against those teams, so is it really good news?

Villa and Stoke each have on league win this season: Bournemouth.

Neat!

While I was a little snarky about it earlier, this match could come down to whether or not Stoke can contain Gestede up front; he was a menace in Blackburn’s 4-1 win earlier this year in the FA Cup.

Regardless of their struggles, Stoke have a lot of attacking talent I really like that you’d expect to get firing, so this has the potential to be a lively affair — Mame Diouf scored from the bench last time out in that win over the Cherries, so we’ll see if Hughes starts him Saturday.

The odds

Bovada: Villa 29/20, Stoke 19/10, Draw 23/10
Paddy Power: Villa 7/5, Stoke 2/1, Draw 23/10
SkyBet: Villa 7/5, Stoke 2/1, Draw 11/5

The prediction

I don’t think I have any faith in Villa to do anything right now. So maybe they’ll shock me. Gestede’ll probably score, but forget the defense.

Villa 1, Stoke 3.

I might watch College GameDay instead. Happy football, everyone!