– After falling to a 1-0 loss against Everton, Stoke are now just four points above the relegation zone and have scored just once in their last five matches.
– Stoke’s issues in front of goal are made clear when comparing their top goalscorer to other clubs’ top goalscorers. Jonathan Walters is Stoke’s top goalscorer this season with six goals. All but three other clubs in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index have more prolific top goalscorers. The only clubs with a top goalscorer with fewer than 7 goals are West Ham (Kevin Nolan – 6), Norwich (Grant Holt – 5), and QPR (Adel Taarabt – 5).
– Of those four players, Walters has reached top goalscorer status with the fewest shots at goal. He’s taken just 42 efforts for his six goals this season. Stoke are 12/5 with 888sport.com to not score again against Villa, while you can get 7/2 on Jonathan Walters to score and Stoke to win.
– Stoke fans can’t complain about their team’s defensive effort’. After the last round of games Robert Huth became one of just 15 players who have contributed more than 250 times defensively across tackles, clearances, interceptions and blocks.
– Huth’s joined in that group by Ryan Shawcross, who has made 268 this season, ranking him 8th overall defensively in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Aston Villa missed out on the chance to rise out of the relegation zone against Liverpool last weekend, falling to a 2-1 defeat against Liverpool despite taking the lead through Christian Benteke.
– Of the top twenty players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for total shots at goal, Benteke is the only one to have maintained an on target percentage over 70% (70.3%). You can get 6/1 on Benteke to score and Villa to win at 888sport.com.
– Bradley Guzan was once again kept busy in keeping the scoreline respectable. He made 9 saves against Liverpool, the joint highest in the last round of games. That took Guzan’s total for the season to 200, the most in the Premier League this season.
– Matt Lowton also remains among the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index’s top defensive performers. He’s won more tackles (74) than any other defender in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. All being well, he will attempt his 100th tackle in the game against Stoke, and with a tackles won percentage of 74.7% you can make a safe bet that he’ll come away with the ball.
– Ciaran Clark is Villa’s third highest ranked player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index behind Benteke and Lowton. Clark is ranked 10th overall for interceptions so far this season with 154, and 7th for clearances with 49.
Competition – Win Five Grand
As we enter the ‘business end’ of the season, Irish whiskey firm Tullamore DEW are calling upon fans to demonstrate their best ‘banner banter’ for the chance to win £5k. While fan banter may be derided by some as crass insults at the expense of the opposition, Dr Jamie Clelland of Loughborough University has backed the campaign saying: “The act of creating the banners is naturally a very social occasion and getting together with a group of friends to create witty banners for display at sporting events allows supporters to express a mischievous edge to their character and have a shared experience that bonds them with others in their social group.”
Tullamore DEW are also currently touring the first ever exhibition of fan banners around the country.
So what better time to get together and come up with something new and wittily defiant for this weekend’s match against Stoke? With a team nicknamed the Potters there’s a wealth of opportunities to poke fun at them!
Readers can enter the competition by visiting http://www.tullamoredew.com/bannerbanter.
Any tweets about the competition should include @tullamoreDEWUK.