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Preview: Aston Villa vs. Stoke City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's EFL Cup fourth round tie between Aston Villa and Stoke City, including team news and predicted lineups.

Aston Villa play host to Stoke City in the EFL Cup fourth round looking to extend their winning run in all competitions to five matches.

Meanwhile, Stoke make the short trip to Birmingham on the back of successive 1-0 victories over Gillingham and Preston North End respectively.


Match preview

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith pictured on September 24, 2020© Reuters

Having been afforded a longer break than many other teams in the Premier League, Villa look to be reaping the benefits as they continue to perform to a high level.

Dean Smith's side are yet to face the kind of assignments which will determine whether they are ready to move to the next level, with their victory over Sheffield United coming after their opponents received an early red card.

Nevertheless, overcoming Burton Albion, the Blades, Bristol City and Fulham in quick succession has naturally raised expectation levels in the West Midlands.

Each of their big-money additions already look settled in the squad, particularly Emiliano Martinez who has kept back-to-back clean sheets since his arrival from Arsenal.

Although it remains early days, Smith will be eager to see whether his second-string can maintain the club's momentum against a Stoke outfit who possess one of the best defensive records in the country.

The Potters have kept five clean sheets in six matches this season, the only goals that they have conceded coming in the seconds before half time and full time against Bristol City.

Michael O'Neill will be demanding much more from his side in the final third at a time when just three strikes have been netted during the same period.

However, Stoke showed against Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this month that they are capable of wearing down higher-quality opponents before taking advantage during the closing stages.

Both clubs will take that result into account when preparing for this contest, more so Stoke who will be motivated to extend their unbeaten run against Villa to six matches.

Aston Villa EFL Cup form: WW
Aston Villa form (all competitions): WWWW

Stoke City EFL Cup form: DWW
Stoke City form (all competitions): DDWLWW


Team News

Bertrand Traore celebrates scoring on his Aston Villa debut in the EFL Cup against Bristol City on September 24, 2020© Reuters

Smith will almost certainly revert to the team which began the 3-0 victory at Bristol City last week.

That will result in Bertrand Traore being restored in attack and Ahmed Elmohamady featuring in an unfamiliar role of centre-back.

Despite having two extra days of preparation time, O'Neill will also make mass alterations to his Stoke XI.

Danny Batth and Nick Powell could be among the players who are recalled after losing their places at the weekend.

Having missed out against Preston, Tyrese Campbell and Sam Vokes should line up in attack.

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Steer; Guilbert, Elmohamady, Hause, Taylor; Lansbury, Nakamba, Ramsey; Traore, Davis, El Ghazi

Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Davies; Collins, Batth, Martins Indi; Smith, Oakley-Boothe, Thompson, Tymon; Powell; Campbell, Vokes


SM words green background

We say: Aston Villa 2-1 Stoke City

Although Villa were able to run riot against Bristol City last week, we expect Stoke to put up much stronger resistance. However, the home side are full of confidence right now, and they should have enough quality to edge out their stubborn opponents.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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Who will progress through to the EFL Cup quarter-finals?

Aston Villa
Stoke City
Aston Villa
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Stoke City
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Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill pictured on July 4, 2020
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