Gerard Houllier will have confirmed something tonight that he will already have pretty much known: he's got his work cut out for him at Villa. In fact the match began with neither manager in their respective dugout (a first for the Premiership) as Tony Pulis' mother died earlier on that day. My thoughts are obviously with him and the idea of winning a football match that evening must have seemed quite insignificant and even absurd.
Anyway a win is a win and Stoke started off as the brighter of the two sides with Kenwyne Jones having the closest of all the chances in the first quarter of an hour. It was Villa who took the lead though through Stewart Downing whose diving header at the far post gave him his second goal of the season.
Villa will regret not doubling their lead given the vast amount of chances they squandered before the half-time whistle blew. In particular, Downing had another stretched shot at goal which was clawed off the line by Stoke stopper Thomas Sorensen.
Pulis arrived at half-time and gave his team a huge moral boost as they stepped on to the pitch for the second period. They almost equalised just five minutes in but Jones' header was well saved. After this, chances were few and far between but Stoke pressure was rewarded in the 80th minute when Kenwyne Jones got his first goal in a Stoke shirt as he powered a header past Friedel in the Villa goal.
Not satisfied with the draw, Stoke continued to push and got the winner in the 90th minute when a low cross from the left was poked home by Robert Huth to give the Potters their first win of the 2010/11 season.
Villa had the chance to go third this evening but this is the second time that they have lost to 'weaker' opposition. Going down at the Britannia is no disgrace per se but one gets the impression that Aston Villa under Martin O'Neill would not allowed their goal to come under so much pressure late on in the game.