Aston Villa v Stoke: Optimism, updates and team news

Don't take this the wrong way, but the optimism this week just seems a little too optimistic. Sherwood has managed 28 matches in the Premier League and while I want to believe he's the man to rescue our season and get us back into Europe, I need to see so much more before I fall into a trap of thinking he's going to achieve anything.

It also surprises me how so many have this belief it's all going to change because of a few words. Have they learn nothing?

Writing that, I do think he'll keep us up as I think you've got to be very unlucky not to keep Aston Villa up. There is a good squad and the next five games are all winnable, but I just think that maybe some are letting the optimism take over without any real grounding.

And for me, it is about the next five matches. And if we can focus on them and if we can get what we need out of those, then we can start to enjoy the season again. Maybe even start to hope about the FA Cup.

We need to be looking for a minimum of nine points out of the possible fifteen coming up (Stoke, Newcastle, West Brom, Sunderland and Swansea) and if we can get that, I think we will easily be able to get the necessary points from the 24 that follow.

But we can't go into the final eight games where we are now, so that is why today and the following four games are very very important. Win today and the optimism will grow even larger and it will be a step in the right direction. But let's win them all and go into April safe and I'll start to believe anything is possible.

Updates and team news

So, we've got Stoke today and team news will be with us as soon as we get it but there are some rumours doing the rounds that Westwood and Cleverley have been dropped to the bench and while I think that would be right and there is talk that Sherwood likes to keep the press on side, we'll wait and see before confirming.

And Gabby and Gil are back available today and while I expect one of them to start, I think we're going to see something similar to how we started last weekend, formation wise, which would mean it might be hard for Gabby to walk back into the side.

But that's all coming up, right now it's time for some Lemsip and the papers.