Premier League: Stoke City v Aston Villa Preview
Aston Villa have finally got round to appointing Gerard Houllier as manager, but the Frenchman will not be in charge for Monday night’s Premier League trip to Stoke City.
In an at times farcical press conference on Friday, it was still unclear exactly when the former Liverpool man will take charge at Villa Park.
His commitments with the French Football Federation mean he is still due to take part in several meetings over the next fortnight.
Caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald will continue in charge and despite a 6-0 hammering by newly-promoted Newcastle and being dumped out of the Europa League by Rapid Vienna, his time has been largely positive.
An emphatic 3-0 win over current whipping boys West Ham United and another home victory over Everton showed that the Scot is at times capable of getting the best out of a squad left in the lurch by Martin O’Neill.
A top-six finish may now be a stretch, but if new recruit Stephen Ireland manages to find some form and young England attackers Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor get back to their best, that target could be realistic.
Stoke used much of their resources to strengthen on deadline day, with Icelandic international and former Bolton, Chelsea and Spurs player Eidur Gudjohnsen raising eyebrows with his move to the Britannia Stadium.
Indeed, that man Gudjohnsen is 10/1 with bookmaker Victor Chandler to open the goalscoring on Monday evening.
The game is live on Sky Sports 1, with kick-off at 8pm.
Odds correct at time of writing and are subject to change