Villa vs Stoke preview
Saturday 23rd April 2011
Stoke will look to put any thoughts of the impending FA Cup final well behind them for now and start to concentrate again on the League with another three points the target for survival. Villa's build-up has been dogged by boss, Gerard Houllier's illness which has confined him to a hospital bed and we wish him all the best for a speedy recovery.
Tony Pulis is keen to make sure that the players concentrate on the task at hand and has banned any talk of Wembley at the club's Clayton Wood training ground so one of last weekend's goal scorers, Kenwyne Jones, was left to talk about the match on Saturday: 'For us, it is still all about the League. It is fantastic to be in an FA Cup Final, but we aren't even thinking about that game now because we have more important matters at this moment in time,' he told stokecityfc.com.
'We have done the job in the cup to get to a Final, now we have to do the job in the League and get those points on the board to secure ourselves a spot in this division for next season.
'The League is without doubt our biggest priority, it has to be. Without taking anything away from the FA Cup, we have to try and get as close to or even better than what we did here last season, in terms of League position and points.'
Aston Villa Team News:
Whilst the manager will be absent through illness, assistant manager Gary McAllister has no other concerns after their 2-1 win over West Ham at Upton Park last Saturday that propelled them past the Potters in the League.
Player to watch: Darren Bent
Bent will always be remembered by Stoke fans for his rant on Twitter a couple of years ago making it clear that he had no intention of joining the Potters before deciding to leave Spurs for Wearside. He's been at Villa since January and hasn't stopped scoring since his move to the Midlands and will be a severe threat.
Stoke City Team News:
Stoke have no new injury worries after the fantastic efforts last weekend, despite Jermaine Pennant and Matty Etherington taking some hard knocks at Wembley. The only change then is likely to be a return for Asmir Begovic with Thomas Sorensen back on the bench.
Player to watch: Jermaine Pennant
Matty may have got the MotM award last weekend, but for me Jermaine should have nudged it, despite failing to get on the scoresheet. His run from the half way line and pinpoint pass for Kenwyne Jones to score our third goal epitomises the player's class.
Match Facts & Stats
Tuesday 26th April: Wolves (home) kick-off: 7.45pm
Saturday 30th April: Blackpool (away) kick-off: 3pm