– Aston Villa drew 1-1 with QPR last weekend, a first half goal from Brett Holman earning Paul Lambert’s side a point. The Villa manager may seek to reintroduce Darren Bent this weekend, given his recall to the bench against the R’s, to try and add some more clinical finishing to his side’s attack.
– Christian Benteke has made a huge impact since his arrival at Aston Villa in August and his importance to Paul Lambert’s side can already not be understated. His 28 shots on target is the highest in the Villa squad this season, his nearest rival being Andreas Weimann with 12.
– So much of Aston Villa’s defence now revolves around young Matthew Lowton, an unsurprising fact given that he brings so many attributes to the table. Not only is he Villa’s hardest working player this season, running for 85.43 miles, his tackle success rate is a quite remarkable 84% from 44 challenges.
– Ashley Westwood usurped Lowton’s hardest-working player tag last time out though, running further than anyone on the pitch with 6.68 miles according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Scottish midfielder Barry Bannan has been winning some well-deserved praise this season for his more mature approach to the game, one that is reaping some statistical rewards. He’s most Villa’s most successful passer of the ball with 198 completed in the opponent’s half.
– Karim El Ahmadi time may have been limited under Paul Lambert so far this season but he would do well to tidy up his discipline whilst on the pitch. No Villa player has committed more fouls, El Ahmadi clocking up 20 at a rate of one every 47.3 minutes.
– Ireland U21 international Derrick Williams should provide some healthy competition for places at the back for Villa, he was their quickest player last weekend as the EA SPORTS Player Performance picked him up travelling at 19.77mph.
– Stoke put in a typically belligerent defensive performance against high-flying West Brom last time out, coming away with the victory thanks to a second half Dean Whitehead goal.
– Robert Huth’s size belies an underlying knowledge of the defensive intricacies of the game, something he’s been regularly displaying for Tony Pulis’ side this season. He’s compiled an excellent 91 interceptions according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Asmir Begovic keeps on reaffirming his place as one of the division’s top keepers with another shut out against West Brom. The Stoke stopper has made 84 saves this season, placing him second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, yet has only conceded 11 goals.
– Jonathan Walters continues to represent Tony Pulis’ ‘grafter’ attitude to the game, as he remains Stoke’s hardest worker this season with 91.03 miles, unsurprising given that he’s topped their miles covered charts 7 times from 15 games.
– Although Stoke have somewhat of a reputation for ‘Route 1’ football, this season has seen a notable change in the flair of their play, most likely due to the arrival of the likes of Charlie Adam. The technical midfielder has been moving the ball around plenty this campaign, racking up 22 crosses and 171 successful passes according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.