Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday August 22 2008
23rd August 2008
So the big day is nearly upon us when the Potters will face up to their first ever Premier League match at the Brit. Villa are the visitors and the Potters are sure of a stiff test against a side that will be hoping to have broken the big four's monopoly at the top of the table by the time May comes round again.
There will be a full house for this historic occasion with the Villains also having sold out their 2,500 seats some time ago, so a great atmosphere is guaranteed.
Villa's Nicky Shorey will be facing up against his old team-mate, Dave Kitson and warns that Villa need to be careful of the new Stoke striker who will be up and raring to go in his home debut. Shorey told the Villa official site: 'Dave Kitson is a very good player. He is sometimes a bit under-estimated for a big lad but he has got great feet, he can pull out a bit of skill from nowhere and bang the ball in the back of the net. So we have to be watchful'.
Stoke will put Liam Lawrence and Ric Fuller through fitness tests, but fans will be praying that they're both fit to start. Abdoulaye Faye is available after getting a new work permit, but otherwise it is likely to be the same starting eleven that were beaten 3-1 at Bolton last week. Thomas Sorensen will be relishing a chance to start against his old club.
We must hope that Lawrence and Fuller are fit to start. Both are vital at present if we're going to get anything out of any match and Liam showed his quality on the pitch when he came during the second half at the Reebok.
Villa started the season with an impressive 4-2 win against Man City at Villa Park last weekend and should field the same team, including 'wanna-way?' midfielder Gareth Barry.
The 21 year old striker scored 11 goals last season and is already well on his way to improving on that with a hat-trick last weekend.
It's 24 years since the Potters and the Villains last met in a competitive match and this will be the 100th match between the two teams as well as boss Tony Pulis' 100th match in charge of the Potters.
Mark Halsey (Lancashire)
Tue 26th August: Cheltenham Town (away) CC2 - kick-off: 7.45pm
Sat 30th August: Middlesbourough (away) kick-off: 3pm
Sun 14th Sept: Everton (home) kick-off: 1.30pm SKY TV
Date:Friday August 22 2008
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