Old MacDonald can't stop Villa coming to harm
Kevin MacDonald takes charge for his sixth successive match in charge of Aston Villa as Gerard Houllier waits for clearance, but he could be in for a tough time as his side travels to Stoke to take on a side full of new talent.
Stoke (6/4) have something of a reputation of being hard to beat at home but they did lose there six times last season, so I am not expecting Stoke to win purely on reputation.
I think with three new signings in the side, deadline day recruits Eidur Gudjohnsen, Jermaine Pennant and Marc Wilson, the home fans will be full of confidence against a rudderless Villa side.
Aston Villa (19/10) may be sitting in sixth place with two wins from three but for me, that position flatters the midlands side. They have been knocked out of the Europa League by an average Rapid Vienna side; they were thumped 6-0 away at Newcastle and rode their luck big time in their slender 1-0 home win over Everton.
Stoke are obviously coming in to this match on pretty poor form, without a point in their first three matches but two of those matches were against Champions League opposition in Chelsea and Tottenham.
The other match was away at Wolverhampton, and while they would have liked a point, I don't think Stoke should worry too much and a win here would get their season right back on track.
Stoke are historically pretty strong against the Villa too, they have only lost once in the last six matches: a 1-0 away defeat last December.
New signing Eidur Gudjohnsen is 13/2 to bag a goal on his home debut but Gabriel Agbonlahor will be raring to get his first league goal since coming back from injury to add to the one he got in Europe and is 6/1 to do so.
I think Stoke will win by a couple of goals here, Villa really do look a bit clueless until they have a full time manager in tow and my money will be going on the Stoke -1 handicap at 9/2 and 2-0 at 11/1.
When you look at Villa's recent defensive record, that is what makes me fancy Stoke here. Stoke have never, and probably will never be, totally prolific but when they face a side that have conceded more goals in their last six Premier League games away from home (17) than in the previous 16 put together (16), I fancy Stoke to score a couple here.
Aston Villa should be fine once their manager is installed full time but there form has been disappointing at best so far this season and Stoke could capitalise on the confusion around the club.