Well oiled Villa beat rusty Stoke
17th August 2014 3pm
A well-oiled and organised Aston Villa side took all three points from the Britannia Stadium on the opening weekend.
Andreas Weimann`s goal just after half time was enough for Paul Lambert`s side to beat Mark Hughes` rusty Stoke City side.
Aston Villa came with a set plan and deployed it perfectly. The Midlands outfit came to defend with the midfield sitting deep, stifling any room for Stoke to play in and then attempting to catch the Potters on the counter attack; with they did to good effect a number of times.
The Potters, who gave debuts to summer recruits Mame Biram Diouf, Bojan Krkic and Phil Bardsley, did start the brightest though in front of capacity crowd in Staffordshire. One of the recruits Bojan, signed from Barcelona, managed to wriggle free in the penalty area after some nice link-up play with Marko Arnautovic but his angled shot was easy enough for Brad Guzan in the Villa goal.
Stoke continued to dominate possession, but their clever build up was unable to break down a resilient Aston Villa outfit, who gave debuts to Aly Cissokho and Phillippe Senderos in defence, with Kieran Richardson playing in a midfield trio that frustrated the Potters front line.
The Potters did nearly break the deadlock after the ever willing runner, Diouf, chased down keeper Guzan, but the American was lucky the block rebounded to safety.
Villa started to settle and counter at pace and in numbers and should have scored when a mix up between Begovic and Wilson allowed Richardson square to Agbonlahor but he could not find the net with the goal gaping.
Another one of Stoke`s debutants, Phil Bardsley, who really impressed at right full back was close to grabbing a debut goal after he galloped down the right and cut inside before hitting a left foot shot across goal, but Guzan made a smart save to keep the scores level.
Shortly after the break, the visitors broke the deadlock as Erik Pieters chased back and across the pitch and was stranded out of position, Andi Weinmann capitalised on the space and shot across Asmir Begovic and into the far corner, sending the travelling Aston Villa fans delirious.
With the majority of the second possession again, Stoke failed to create any real chances of note, except for when Marko Arnautovic found space in the box late on, but failed to get his shot away with some very good last ditch defending from Ron Vlaar.
Hughes brought on former Liverpool duo Charlie Adam and Peter Crouch, and changed the approach for Stoke as they went more route one. Crouch impressed in his short cameo, causing a nuisance for the Villa backline, but the ball just wouldn`t sit for Stoke.
With Stoke piling on more pressure late on, Villa had a number of chances on the break and Bacuna should have put the game to bed late on, but blazed over from 6 yards out.
The defeat slams Stoke fans back to ground after high expectations of a successful campaign being replicated this season.