Slowly but surely, Paul Lambert seems to be doing impressive things with Aston Villa. He's led a pretty young team from the brink of relegation to a comfortable mid-table position, and they head into Sunday's game at home to Stoke City on the back of a convincing defeat against Norwich City and an unlikely one at home to Premier League leaders Chelsea.
They come up against a Stoke City team that is currently level on points with them in 10th place, albeit with the Villans side having a game in hand. On a couple of occasions poor runs of form has threatened to drag Stoke into the mess at the bottom of the table, but wins against Arsenal and West Ham in the Potters' last three league games has seen them establish a nine-point buffer over the bottom three.
For this match, Villa have no new injury concerns, meaning Jores Okoré, Libor Kozák and Charles N'Zogbia are still sidelined alongside Chris Herd. Stoke boss Mark Hughes has more to worry about, with Charlie Adam and Jonathan Walters both suspended, Stephen Ireland ineligible against his parent club, Robert Huth out with a knee injury and question marks hanging over the fitness of both Oussama Assaidi and Erik Pieters.
Aston Villa injuries and suspensions
Out: Jores Okoré (knee), Libor Kozák (broken leg), Charles N'Zogbia (achilles), Chris Herd (personal reasons). In doubt: None.
Stoke City injuries and suspensions
Out: Robert Huth (knee), Stephen Ireland (ineligible), Charlie Adam (suspended), Jonathan Walters (suspended). In doubt: Oussama Assaidi (knee), Erik Pieters (leg).
Match Date/Time: Sunday, 4 p.m. local, noon ET
Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham, England
TV: NBCSN (U.S.), Sportsnet World (Canada), Sky Sports 1/HD (U.K.)
Online: NBC Sports Live Extra (U.S.), Sky Go (U.K.)