Stoke City host Aston Villa at The Britannia Stadium tomorrow with Mark Hughes' side wanting to bounce back from their mid-week League Cup knock out to Manchester United.
Paul Lambert will be looking to put defeats against Fulham and Man United in recent weeks behind him as he visits the Potteries, and will be hoping striker Christian Benteke's goal drought will end after seeing him go almost 12 hours without a goal this season.
Aston Villa go into the game a point and two places ahead of Stoke but a win for either side could see them distance themselves from the relegation fodder over the festive period.
Ryan Shawcross limped off with what looked like a groin strain on Wednesday night and is still a major doubt for the game, giving Mark Hughes a central defensive headache with Robert Huth also still out injured. Marc Wilson is thought to be retaining his place in central defence alongside Marc Muniesa.
Stephen Ireland is ineligible to play against his parent club and so Steven N'zonzi may come back into the team after sitting out the League Cup tie with Matthew Etherington facing a race against time to be fit.
Villa will be missing Jores Okore, Joe Bennett and Charles N’Zogbia due to long term injuries. They will also be without their captain Ron Vlaar and Chris Herd due to a facial injury.
Stoke City Captain Ryan Shawcross hasn't missed a Premier League game in nearly a year, the last game being the 3-3 draw with Southampton in December 2012.
The last time Stoke beat Villa was in September of 2010 when they walked out 2-1 winners.
Four of the last five games between these two have ended in a draw.
Stoke only have one player, Charlie Adam, to score more than two goals this season showing Stoke still has a problem getting the ball in the net.
Villa are unbeaten in their last 5 matches against Stoke in all competitions.
Stoke are undefeated in their last 5 home matches in the Premier League.
The Potters need a win to lift themselves up near the top half of the table. Aston Villa are in the same predicament and I think they will both fight and cancel each other out.
I think there will be goals though, 2-2.
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