skip to content
Free kick awarded for a foul by Marc Albrighton on Robert Huth. Free kick taken by Thomas Sorensen.
Nathan Delfouneso is caught offside. Indirect free kick taken by Thomas Sorensen.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Kenwyne Jones on Carlos Cuellar. James Collins takes the free kick.
Corner taken right-footed by Jermaine Pennant, Rory Delap takes a shot. James Collins manages to make a clearance.
Jonathan Walters produces a cross, clearance by Richard Dunne.
Charles N'Zogbia challenges Ryan Shotton unfairly and gives away a free kick. Ryan Shotton restarts play with the free kick.
The ball is delivered by Charles N'Zogbia, Thomas Sorensen makes a save.
Unfair challenge on Kenwyne Jones by James Collins results in a free kick. Marc Wilson takes the free kick. Robert Huth takes a shot.
Jermaine Pennant takes a shot. Richard Dunne gets a block in.
The ball is delivered by Ciaran Clark, Ryan Shotton manages to make a clearance.
Shot from 35 yards by Stiliyan Petrov went harmlessly over the net.
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Marc Albrighton played to the near post, clearance made by Dean Whitehead. Charles N'Zogbia takes the outswinging corner, Robert Huth makes a clearance.
Booking for Rory Delap for unsporting behaviour. Corner taken by Matthew Etherington.
Charles N'Zogbia produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the goal.
The ball is delivered by Jermaine Pennant.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Rory Delap on Stiliyan Petrov. Charles N'Zogbia produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick, Thomas Sorensen makes a save.
Jonathan Walters is caught offside. Jermaine Pennant comes on in place of Jonathan Woodgate. Bradley Guzan takes the free kick.
Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Matthew Etherington from the left by-line, Marc Wilson takes a shot.
Nathan Delfouneso is ruled offside. Thomas Sorensen takes the free kick.
Charles N'Zogbia has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the left of the goal. Rory Delap is brought on as a substitute for Wilson Palacios.
Centre by Marc Albrighton.
Gabriel Agbonlahor fouled by Wilson Palacios, the ref awards a free kick. Stephen Warnock takes the free kick.
Corner from the right by-line taken by Matthew Etherington, Robert Huth produces a header from inside the area that goes over the bar.
Carlos Cuellar delivers the ball, save by Thomas Sorensen.
Foul by Dean Whitehead on Charles N'Zogbia, free kick awarded. Dean Whitehead is shown a yellow card. Stiliyan Petrov restarts play with the free kick.
Matthew Etherington crosses the ball, Richard Dunne makes a clearance.
Jonathan Walters gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ciaran Clark. Richard Dunne restarts play with the free kick.
The ball is delivered by Gabriel Agbonlahor, Nathan Delfouneso takes a shot. Save by Thomas Sorensen. Short corner taken by Marc Albrighton from the left by-line. Charles N'Zogbia delivers the ball, Jonathan Walters fouled by Ciaran Clark, the ref awards a free kick. Thomas Sorensen takes the free kick.
The ball is delivered by Ryan Shotton, Carlos Cuellar manages to make a clearance. Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Matthew Etherington, James Collins manages to make a clearance.
Jonathan Walters delivers the ball.
Dean Whitehead challenges Stiliyan Petrov unfairly and gives away a free kick. James Collins takes the direct free kick.
Emile Heskey leaves the field to be replaced by Nathan Delfouneso.
Ryan Shotton sends in a cross.
Foul by Ciaran Clark on Wilson Palacios, free kick awarded. Robert Huth restarts play with the free kick.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Wilson Palacios on Charles N'Zogbia. Direct free kick taken by Stephen Warnock.
Effort on goal by Stiliyan Petrov from inside the penalty box misses to the right of the target.
Charles N'Zogbia gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Woodgate. Thomas Sorensen takes the free kick.
Corner from the right by-line taken by Marc Albrighton, clearance by Kenwyne Jones. Stiliyan Petrov takes a shot. Dean Whitehead gets a block in.
Stephen Warnock delivers the ball.
Jonathan Walters crosses the ball, save by Bradley Guzan.
Foul by Wilson Palacios on Stiliyan Petrov, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by James Collins.
Jonathan Woodgate delivers the ball, Ciaran Clark manages to make a clearance.
Wilson Palacios fouled by Emile Heskey, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Jonathan Woodgate.
Shot from just outside the penalty box by Gabriel Agbonlahor misses to the left of the target.
Emile Heskey concedes a free kick for a foul on Robert Huth. Free kick taken by Thomas Sorensen.
Jonathan Woodgate concedes a free kick for a foul on Charles N'Zogbia. Richard Dunne takes the free kick.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Walters by Stephen Warnock. The ball is swung over by Dean Whitehead, Robert Huth has a header from close range and clears the crossbar.
Stiliyan Petrov takes a shot. Blocked by Dean Whitehead.
Robert Huth challenges Gabriel Agbonlahor unfairly and gives away a free kick. Robert Huth is booked. Stephen Warnock takes the direct free kick.
Charles N'Zogbia takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance by Dean Whitehead. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Charles N'Zogbia played to the near post, Emile Heskey has a headed effort at goal from close in that strikes the post.
A cross is delivered by Jonathan Walters, clearance made by Carlos Cuellar.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ryan Shawcross by Charles N'Zogbia. Jonathan Woodgate takes the direct free kick.
Marc Albrighton crosses the ball, Jonathan Woodgate manages to make a clearance.
The ball is sent over by Charles N'Zogbia, Ryan Shawcross manages to make a clearance. Marc Albrighton decides to take the corner short.
Unfair challenge on Stephen Warnock by Kenwyne Jones results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Stephen Warnock.
Ryan Shotton produces a cross, clearance by Stephen Warnock.
Marc Albrighton crosses the ball.
The ball is swung over by Emile Heskey, Marc Wilson makes a clearance.
Gabriel Agbonlahor fouled by Robert Huth, the ref awards a free kick. James Collins takes the free kick.
Emile Heskey fouled by Ryan Shawcross, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Bradley Guzan.
Ryan Shotton delivers the ball, Stephen Warnock gets a block in.
Centre by Matthew Etherington, Robert Huth produces a header from inside the area that goes over the bar.
Inswinging corner taken by Matthew Etherington from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance by Stiliyan Petrov. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Matthew Etherington from the right by-line to the near post, Stiliyan Petrov makes a clearance.
Pulis backs McLeish to lift Villa
Stoke boss Tony Pulis believes Aston Villa could be a big success under Alex McLeish - if the Scot is given time.
McLeish is still to win over a significant proportion of Villa fans having defected from cross-city rivals Birmingham in the summer.
Villa have had a mixed campaign to date and sit 12th in the Barclays Premier League ahead of their Boxing Day trip to the Britannia Stadium.
Pulis feels fans must show patience towards the former Scotland and Rangers boss as the club remain in transition following the departure of their two previous managers in quick succession.
Pulis said: "I have got a lot of respect for Alex. It is a great job but it's a tough job and he has gone there from their rivals. It's never easy doing that.
"But have a look at his record, when he was up in Scotland and when he came down here. It's first class.
"Just give him time and patience. They're two very difficult words to stick to in football but he needs time, like we all do.
"He needs to time to put his mark and his stamp on the football club.
"Give him a couple of years and I am sure that club will be a strong, vibrant, successful club. You just can't turn it round overnight."
Stoke are five points better off than Villa in eighth and, by their standards, have made a brilliant start to the season.
They did have an indifferent spell from mid-October to mid-November but prior to their midweek loss at leaders Manchester City they had won four in succession and they have also reached the Europa League last 32.
Because of that McLeish has labelled Stoke the favourites ahead of Monday's clash - a rare tag for a game between the two near-neighbours - but Pulis is not accepting it.
He said: "Managers talk so much blarney!
"Alex is a manager and I'm a manager. You try to take pressure off your own club and your own players when you go into games, so I won't be taking any notice of Alex.
"They have got great players and we are expecting a really tough game."
Stoke striker Peter Crouch is expected to be back in contention after illness.
Darren Bent has revealed his determination to increase his goals per game ratio for Villa as he set his sights on being part of England's Euro 2012 squad next summer.
Bent has resumed training after missing the last two games with a thigh problem and is expected to return at Stoke.
He angered some fans by going shopping during the latter stages of the Liverpool game on Sunday.
But the striker has since apologised for upsetting any supporters and now has his thoughts on boosting his goal tally.
The 27-year-old scored nine goals in 16 games last season after his #18million move from Sunderland - an average of one every 1.77 matches.
But he has been on target five times in 14 appearances during the current campaign - a ratio of one every 2.8 games.
Bent said: "Throughout my career, I've always maintained a one-in-two ratio and at the moment it's virtually one every three games this season.
"I could easily be in double figures and had numerous chances this season but for some reason it just hasn't been happening.
"But all it takes is a goal here and there and things will kick back into place.
"As long as the chances keep coming, I'm confident I can score regularly."
Bent missed out on selection for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups while England did not qualify for Euro 2008.
He has become a regular part of the side during 2012 after a run of four goals in five internationals but is taking nothing for granted.
Bent said: "I'd love to be part of a major tournament with England but I never take anything for granted or count my chickens.
"I suppose I'm like that because a lot has happened to me with England squads.
"I missed out on the 2006 and 2010 World Cups after being in contention beforehand.
"But I just hope I do myself justice, play well for Villa, and keep hold of the shirt and stay part of the squad."
In addition to Bent, striker Emile Heskey (Achilles) and central defender James Collins (knee) are also expected to be fit.
Potters held at home
Marc Wilson came agonisingly close to grabbing a scarcely deserved winner for Stoke as they played out a goalless draw with midlands rivals Aston Villa at the Britannia Stadium.
With Peter Crouch and Darren Bent unable to make their returns from illness and injury respectively, both sides lacked attacking quality in the first half, although Villa did hit the woodwork through Emile Heskey, who was subsequently forced off with a recurrence of his Achilles problem.
There were chances at either end as a poor game opened up somewhat after the interval, and Wilson almost broke the deadlock in the 69th minute when his header - from Matthew Etherington's corner - struck the underside of the bar before being bundled away by Gabriel Agbonlahor, with replays suggesting the whole of the ball was not over the line.
Defeat would have been harsh on Villa, who belied their recent frailties from set-pieces by defiantly standing up to a Stoke side renowned for their aerial prowess.
Indeed, Alex McLeish may feel his side should have taken all three points after seeing them create the better chances from open play in a match low on quality but high on endeavour.
Villa remain 12th in the Barclays Premier League table, five points behind Stoke in eighth.
The Potters, who had won four league games in a row for the first time prior to Wednesday's defeat at Manchester City, started the match brightly and Robert Huth headed over an Etherington cross in the second minute.
Heskey came agonisingly close to putting Villa ahead in the 21st minute, his header from Charles N'Zogbia's corner striking Thomas Sorensen's left-hand post with the goalkeeper well beaten.
After becoming the first player to be booked, for a disputed foul on Agbonlahor, Huth then went close again, having been picked out at the far post by Dean Whitehead's free-kick.
The away team enjoyed a decent spell prior to the interval and Stiliyan Petrov blasted an effort wide following another break sparked by Ciaran Clark's thunderous challenge on Whitehead.
Stoke responded, however, and Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan was forced to make a vital interception at Kenwyne Jones' feet after the Trinidadian striker had looked to get on the end of his own flick-on.
Heskey failed to emerge for the second half, so Nathan Delfouneso was introduced by McLeish.
After Carlos Cuellar had produced an important header at the back post to prevent Jonathan Walters from connecting with Ryan Shotton's cross, the substitute came close to giving Villa the lead in the 53rd minute.
Agbonlahor broke clear down the left before squaring for his strike partner, but Delfouneso's toe-poked finish was blocked by Sorensen with his legs.
Unsurprisingly, Stoke's main threat continued to come from dead-ball situations and Huth headed over for a third time, from an Etherington corner, shortly after the hour mark had passed.
Villa, however, remained sporadically dangerous in open play and N'Zogbia dragged a right-footed shot wide of the near post after cutting in from the left flank.
Stoke were left cursing their luck moments later as Wilson met Etherington's centre with a firm header from 10 yards out, only to be denied by a combination of crossbar and Agbonlahor.
Sorensen fumbled a tame N'Zogbia free-kick in the 75th minute, but no visiting player was in a position to take advantage.
With long throw specialist Rory Delap having been introduced in place of Wilson Palacios, Villa were forced to face an increasing aerial bombardment in the closing stages.
Yet it was the visitors who arguably looked more likely to snatch all three points as they attacked with pace and vigour.
A late Delap throw almost brought joy for Stoke, but Petrov's header drifted narrowly wide of his own goal.