Stoke - Andreas Weimann scored the game's only goal as Aston Villa made a
winning start to the new Premier League season with a 1-0 victory at
Stoke City on Saturday.
While Villa escaped relegation by only
five points last season, Stoke are hoping to build on a ninth-place
finish, but the visitors belied predictions that they will struggle to
avoid relegation with a clinical display.
Weimann struck in the
50th minute, drilling a shot through Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to
give Villa a first away win in the league since a New Year's Day success
Stoke manager Mark Hughes had handed competitive
debuts to three new signings, with former Barcelona starlet Bojan Krkic
taking his place in the starting XI alongside Phil Bardsley and Mame
Villa also had three new faces in their line-up in Philippe Senderos, Aly Cissokho and Kieran Richardson.
winger Charles N'Zogbia made his first appearance in over a year
following a serious Achilles problem, while Alan Hutton returned at
right-back after spending part of last season on loan at Bolton
Stoke's fans were eager to catch a first glimpse of
Bojan in competitive action and the 23-year-old was quick to catch the
eye at the Britannia Stadium, cutting inside Hutton wide on the left and
shooting into the side-netting.
But although the hosts enjoyed the lion's share of possession, Villa carried the greater threat on the break.
Agbonlahor should have put the visitors ahead after Richardson beat
Stoke goalkeeper Begovic to the ball and crossed, but the Villa forward
shot wide of an open goal under pressure from Ryan Shawcross.
Sunderland full-back Bardsley looked to crown his debut with a goal by
letting fly shortly before half-time, but his left-foot strike was
parried by visiting goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
They were warnings that the home side did not heed.
minutes into the second half, Weimann exploited half-hearted defending
inside the Stoke box to let fly with a low shot that squirmed beneath
In response, Bojan saw a succession of efforts blocked by Ron Vlaar and Fabian Delph.
Hughes threw on Peter Crouch in place of Diouf, Leandro Bacuna spurned a
chance to extend Villa's lead when he lashed wide from Delph's low
Stoke procured one last sight of goal in injury time, but Marko Arnautovic was superbly thwarted by Senderos.