Aston Villa - Stoke City Preview: Pressure firmly on Villans as fans expect an improved performance

Aston Villa know that they're losing the faith of fans, but could go a long way to regaining that when they host Stoke City on Saturday afternoon.

A series of disappointing results have left the Villans stranded in danger, 18th placed in the Premier League and just two points off the bottom of the table. Looking at it differently, in a more positive light, they're only five points from the top half of the table - and four points from current league holders Chelsea

However, it's not the current position that is concerning those around Villa Park the most, but the most recent performances of the team.

Awful form plaguing Villa's season

Throwing a two goal lead away against Leicester City to lose 3-2 came just a week before a dismal display saw them drop three points at home to West Brom. There was some improvement in the midweek that followed, as Rudy Gestede's goal ensured a 1-0 victory over Second City rivals Birmingham City in the League Cup, but that itself was a poor performance - masked by the second half winner.

The winless league streak continued last Saturday, with Villa failing to take points off a vulnerable looking Liverpool side, who were buoyed by the return of Daniel Sturridge.

It was Sturridge himself who grabbed a brace to help his team to the three points, James Milner scoring the other to ensure that despite more goals from Gestede, the target man scoring twice, Villa left with nothing.

Putting all of this into blunt statistics, Tim Sherwood's side are without a league victory in 55 days, and have lost five of six league games following that opening day win. That needs to change, starting on Saturday.

Team news

Adama Traore, who looked bright upon signing from Barcelona, is still struggling with an ankle injury picked up against Notts County, and is unlikely to be selected.

The out of form Gabriel Agbonlahor is another doubt, due to the calf problem that kept him out of last weeks game at Anfield.

There is some good news, with Idrissa Gueye in contention for a return against the Potters, having recovered from a hamstring injury.

When they last met

Late February saw the last clash between these two teams, and was also held at Villa Park, as Stoke triumphed by two goals to one.

It happened to be Tim Sherwood's first full game in charge, and got off to a good start as Scott Sinclair put the hosts ahead 20 minutes in, only for Mame Biram Diouf to level the score on the stroke of half-time.

There was further drama right at the end of the game, with Ron Vlaar sent off for bringing down Victor Moses in the area, allowing the Nigerian to step up and slot home the winning spot kick.

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