Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Saturday February 28 2009
1st March 2009
Both teams will be looking to bounce back after dropping disappointing points at home last weekend. Villa lost 1-0 to Chelsea, ending their 13 game unbeaten run, whilst Stoke let two vital points slip out of their hands with a late own goal against Portsmouth.
This will be another difficult task for the Potters, who are still looking for their first away win, with Villa harbouring Champions League ambitions next year.
Thomas Sorensen is relishing the chance to return to his old club. Villa let him move to Stoke for nothing in the summer and he's been our bargain signing of the season and he's hoping that he'll get a good reception from the home fans: 'It's a place that I love to play, if the fans appreciate what I did there then I'll get some applause, if not then it doesn't matter.'
Villa rested half their first team in their UEFA cup midweek knockout which emphasises how highly they need the three points to maintain a top four challenge. This should mean a return for John Carew, Ashley Young and Gabreil Agbonlahor amongst others.
The American keeper had a nightmare at the Brit back in August. Who can forget his flapping at the ball as he watches Big Mama convert Rory Delap's 94th minute throw-in to give the Potters all three points.
Delap and Etherington are still suspended, whilst Ricardo Fuller may be available if the medics give the nod as he recovers from a dislocated shoulder sustained against Sunderland. But if Ric is deemed fit he's more likely to be on the bench with Sidibe and Beattie starting up front. Liam Lawrence should have done enough last week to be able to claim another place in the starting line-up.
It was a quiet return to the starting eleven for Big Mama last week, but he should be be beginning to get back into his stride with another run-out at Villa Park
Howard Webb. Having suffered from some dire refereeing in recent weeks, Webb is widely regarded as the best in the Premier League so we'd hope that Sunday's tie will not be memorable due to the man in the middle.
Wednesday 4th March: Bolton (home) kick-off: 7.45pm
Saturday 14th March: Everton (away) kick-off: 3pm
Saturday 21st March: Middlesborough (home) kick-off 3pm
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Date:Saturday February 28 2009
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