Aston Villa vs. Stoke City  0 - 0


Lambert laments missed opportunity

8 December 2012 20:02

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has bemoaned his side's inability to turn their superior possession into a win against Stoke on Saturday.

Villa have struggled for goals all season - registering just 12 in 16 Premier League games - and the Lambert, while delighted with the maturity of his young squad, believes his team should have made the breakthrough - most notably with a strong penalty appeal.

"I thought we dominated the game, I was delighted with the way that we dealt with Stoke's strength," Lambert said.

"I think we used our strength by trying the play football and we were excellent in certain parts of the game and in any other given day I think that we could have had one or two and I think we restricted Stoke to one real chance.

"I thought we could have got a penalty with Gabby (Agbonlahor) in the second half but I can't fault any of them today."

Villa fielded one of the youngest sides in Premier League history on Saturday and Lambert was delighted about how the team stood up to the pressures of the notoriously physical Potters.

"I thought some of the football we have been playing is very, very good and we could have got one or two. We just need that finishing touch that didn't materialise," he said.

"I thought we passed it really well and I thought (Ashley) Westwood was excellent, there was a lot of plusses out there which on another day could have seen us score one or two."

Stoke have been in fine form of late, arriving at Villa Park having won three consecutive league games, and boss Tony Pulis was keen to praise the performance of their opponents after seeing his side's threat nullified.

"When you look at the game and the three games prior and look at what Villa have done against some of the top teams at home they have done very, very well," he said.

"They have lots of enthusiasm and they really do work for their manager so I knew we had to compete so two away games at West Brom and Villa and we have two clean sheets and four points, it's a great tribute to the players."

Villa had much the better chances, with Brad Guzan not being forced into a single save, but Pulis was delighted with the way his own defence helped Asmir Begovic to his seventh clean sheet in the league this season.

"I personally don't think Asmir has had a save of note today and that is credit to the players in front of him," he said.

"Ryan's (Shawcross) block in the first half was outstanding."


Premier League: Aston Villa 0 Stoke 0

8 December 2012 18:10

It was billed as a contest between two in-form sides but Aston Villa could only hold visiting Stoke to a goalless draw on Saturday.

Both teams came into the encounter unbeaten in three league matches, but could only play out a 0-0 draw - the fourth draw in a row between the sides.

The hosts began without captain Ron Vlaar - out for his third successive game with a calf injury - while there was once again only a place on the bench for the club's record signing, Darren Bent.

Stoke, meanwhile, had a clean bill of health but were missing Charlie Adam through suspension and Peter Crouch was selected as a substitute.

To the delight of the home fans, Villa began splendidly, forcing an early corner after barely a minute's play and going on to enjoy 70 percent of possession in the opening 10 minutes.

Christian Benteke imposed himself to hold the ball up to good effect early on for the hosts and Tony Pulis' men barely got a look in for the duration of the first half.

But the home side's frantic early pace soon settled and the prospect of a bore draw became more inevitable by the minute.

Paul Lambert's men have struggled for goals this season - notching just 12 in total so far, with an unhealthy goal difference of -11 to come with it - and for all their dominance, any early threat of a football match breaking out soon disappeared with a whimper.

After an uneventful conclusion to the opening half, the hosts were determined to begin the second period as quickly as they had the first, but Benteke hit a weak volley straight at the grateful Asmir Begovic after being played in by Kyle Lowton.

Five minutes later, Villa applied the greatest amount of pressure so far, peppering the Stoke goal with shots and crosses in abundance and also having a penalty appeal turned down after Gabriel Agbonlahor was brought to the ground.

In truth, the Villains never looked like scoring, but at least they did everything but. Stoke's first attempt on target only came after 67 minutes - and Jonathan Walters' wild shot found itself closer to the stadium roof than the goalposts.

Sixty-six minutes in, Lambert, it seems, had finally given in. On came number nine Bent.

And the England international's willingness to get forward was evident from the off, yet now it was no longer a case of the wrong personnel but rather inadequate service to the front man.

Ten minutes later, Crouch came on against his old club as Pulis showed his first signs of going for all three points.

But, alas, it was to no avail as both sides played out an uneventful draw and Stoke saw Ryan Shotton get sent off in injury time.

Impressively, this was Stoke’s eighth clean sheet of the season. But for Paul Lambert and his lacklustre Villa side, four games unbeaten will never have seemed so disappointing.


Pulis says priority is 40 points

8 December 2012 00:16

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis says his main aim this season is reaching the 40-point mark, despite his team's impressive recent run.

The Potters, currently ninth in the Premier League table with 22 points from 15 games, have won four of their last five matches, including a 1-0 victory away to West Brom on December 1.

But, ahead of a trip to Aston Villa on Saturday, Pulis has played down their expectations for the campaign.

"We have to be at our maximum every game to get results in the Premier League," he told reporters. "We are not good enough to do anything other than that.

"Luckily, in most of the games this year we have been at that maximum, and from that we have managed to get the results that I think we have deserved.

"But there is a long way to go and we have to get to those 40 points. I don't care what anybody says - that is our main aim every time we start a Premier League season."

Saturday's opponents have preferred summer signing Christian Benteke to Darren Bent for much of the season so far, but Pulis refused to be drawn on talk that Villa boss Paul Lambert could part with his 18 million pounds striker in January.

The 54-year-old added: "He is not my player. Whatever Paul does and whatever Darren does at Aston Villa is their responsibility.

"You have to ask Paul about that. If you ask me about someone else's players, that is none of my business."


Premier League preview: Aston Villa v Stoke City

6 December 2012 08:54

An in-form Stoke City will hope to take their best football to Villa Park, where they take on struggling Aston Villa on Saturday.

Stoke have not tasted defeat in their past five matches, winning four of them and drawing at West Ham, in a surprising upward form spiral for Tony Pulis' men.

The Britannia Stadium outfit had previously won one of their first 10 Premier League games this season, and in that run they also lost to third-tier club Swindon Town in the League Cup.

However, since a narrow 1-0 win over stragglers QPR, Pulis' men have continued to get the job done, posting wins over Fulham, Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion.

And they are in prime position to capitalise on their form as Villa - despite being unbeaten in three games - have struggled this season, and are just two points from the drop.

Draws with Arsenal and QPR either side of a win over Reading have handed Paul Lambert's men five valuable points recently, but with trips to Liverpool and Chelsea prior to Christmas, and their hosting of Tottenham on Boxing Day, the Birmingham side will need to be switched on when Stoke visit.

And their lengthy injury list is of no help, with no less than eight players sidelined by ailments, including captain Ron Vlaar (calf), Gary Gardner (knee), Joe Bennett (knee), Chris Herd (knee) and Charles N'Zogbia (knee).

In contrast, Stoke's injury list is a minor blip on the radar, and they will get back strikers Peter Crouch (mouth) and Michael Owen (hamstring).

Charlie Adam will serve a one-match suspension, while throw-in specialist Rory Delap (hernia) and Marc Wilson (broken leg) remain sidelined.

Recent history suggests this match-up does not offer much for the neutrals, as the past three meetings between the two sides have ended in draws.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +43 89
2 38 +32 78
3 38 +36 75
4 38 +35 73
5 38 +20 72
6 38 +15 63
7 38 +28 61
8 38 -4 49
9 38 -4 46
10 38 -8 46
11 38 -17 44
12 38 -10 43
13 38 -11 42
14 38 -11 41
15 38 -22 41
16 38 -23 41
17 38 -13 39
18 38 -26 36
19 38 -30 28
20 38 -30 25