Match Preview: Aston Villa v Stoke at Villa Park

We all know what happened last season and it wasn't pretty. Stoke scored two goals in the last two or three minutes to share the points. However, I am fairly confident when I say that won't happen again, mostly because it was a freak ending.

Stoke will fight for sure and they will be troublesome to play against but they won't score two goals in the last two minutes and with a bit of luck they'll actually need to score more than that to rescue anything, although I'd happily take a 1-0 win if it meant three points.

You see, after 17 games last season we were also sitting fourth but this season we have one more point. If we win on Saturday, we will have 35 points and that will be one more point than we had last season after 18 games.

Points and position in the table mean nothing at the moment, but if we do win we will be doing better than last season at the same number of games. That might all change later on Saturday, if Arsenal beat Hull at home, as they will reclaim third spot and then while we will have more points than this time last season, we will be one place worse off.

But it really means nothing. After we had played 18 games last season we were ahead of Manchester United, Liverpool were leading and Everton were nine points behind us. Things changed by the end of this season things will change around quite a bit this season too.

But to Stoke. They are 11th at the moment with 21 points. If they win their game in hand, as the table stands today, they would be ninth. Their away record is seven points from a possible twenty-four, so it maybe isn't excellent, but they've also not done too badly.

They will play much like they did last season and that will actually be good for us I think because we can pretty much do what we did last season and then do what we have been doing a bit of lately; soaking up the pressure and playing counter attacking football in the second half.

That is the thing about this match. If we do exactly what we have done the last couple of games, this has three points all over it. Which is why I fancy we will start with the same eleven that have started the last two matches.

It might be a little more difficult, with Stoke playing a different way to Manchester United and Sunderland, but we have that confidence right now and we are used to winning. We are used to creating chances and we are getting used to scoring. When you do something often enough, it starts become habit forming.

So, the preview is, expect much of the same. Get your bet on Villa to win, I fancy it is a fairly safe bet and if Hull do us a favour later on Saturday, things will all be good.

So that is it I think. Much the same (I'm hoping) in terms of the football and passing it about and three points. I can't really see any other result as long as we keep doing exactly what we have done, but that is so easy to write, anything could happen between now and 3pm on Saturday.

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