Stoke v Villa stat pack: Westwood central to Potters result
Villa face Stoke on Saturday hoping to drag the Potters further into the relegation battle - with a win enough to take them to within one point of their hosts this weekend.
Encounters between the two sides over the past few years have been extremely tight affairs, with the last four ending in draws and only four goals scored between the sides in that time.
Villa will be confident, however, having won three of their last six games as they prepare to face a Stoke side that have picked up fewer points since the turn of the year than any other Barclays Premier League team.
Tony Pulis has seen his side collect just five points from eleven games in 2013, with their only victory coming at home against bottom club Reading.
Nevertheless, the Britannia Stadium is still somewhat of a fortress for Stoke, losing just twice at home in the league to Chelsea and West Ham, but both have come since the New Year and Villa have reason to be confident.
Paul Lambert's side have averaged more shots per game (11.2 to 10.1), more possession (45% to 43%) and a better pass accuracy (77% to 70.5%) than their opponents in the league thus far and the encounter between the sides earlier in the season went to script.
Stoke mustered just two shots at goal, without forcing Brad Guzan into a single save, and made 112 fewer passes in the game at Villa Park, with the hosts having 56% of the possession.
Assuming Villa's Young Lions see plenty of the ball again this weekend, the midfield area will be key and Ashley Westwood has ticked things over nicely of late.
The 23-year-old had the most touches when the two met back in December (89), and has averaged the most passes per game for Villa this season (40.8).
Last month in the Premier League only Swansea's Jonathan De Guzman completed more accurate passes than the former Crewe man (233) and Westwood has taken on a lot of responsibility following the step up in standard.
The progress the young midfielder has made is certainly something that Lambert has been quick to give credit for, stating: "You wouldn't have thought he had just come through the leagues. He has been fantastic for us."
Westwood's pass accuracy of 85.2% shows his standards have rarely slipped.
The 87% accuracy he recorded when Villa met Stoke earlier in the campaign isn't even enough to rank amongst his top ten match figures in the league.
Indeed, on six occasions he's managed a success rate over 90% this season, including a massive 97.4% in the crucial match against QPR.
The fact that six of Villa's seven wins this season have come in the twenty-one games that he has started is evidence enough of Westwood's importance to the side.
The team have also scored more goals on average when he has been present (1.2 to 0.7), with their points per game figure almost double that when he isn't in the starting XI (1.14 to 0.6).
Find yet more statistics on Aston Villa and the rest of the Premier League, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings at WhoScored.com. Follow @WhoScored and their editor-in-chief @martinlaurence7 on Twitter.
Go to full match coverage for Stoke 1 - 3 Aston Villa (4th April 2013) >
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