Aston Villa battled to a 1-0 away victory versus Stoke City on Saturday at the Britannia Stadium.
On the opening day of the campaign you could be forgiven for thinking it was fall, as the wind swirled around the pitch and both teams struggled to knock the ball around.
The only goal of the game came in the 50th minute, as Villa’s Austrian forward Andreas Weimann bundled his way through two challenges and then smashed an effort into the far corner to nag all three points for Paul Lambert’s side.
Bojan Krkic impressed for Stoke but the Potters failed to carve out any real chances throughout a closely-fought encounter, as Villa recorded their first away win in the Premier League since January 1, 2014.
Hefty challenges crashed in early on from both sides as this Midlands derby took no prisoners. Villa pressed high up the pitch and Aly Cissokho whipped in some dangerous deliveries from the left flank which the Potters were forced to deal with. Stoke showed little promise going forward and Villa looked more dangerous with Gabriel Agbonlahor’s pace causing Stoke’s back four plenty of problems. Agbonlahor should have scored after Kieran Richardson nicked the ball off of Asmir Begovic and played it across to Villa’s striker but some brave last-ditch defending saved the day for Stoke.
In the swirling wind in Stoke, both teams struggled to get their foot on the ball in an even first half.
After the break Villa didn’t waste any time going in front as Weimann found the ball on the right side of the box, settled the ball and then drove his effort towards the bottom corner. The Austrian’s shot had too much power on it for Begovic to handle and it slammed into the net to put the visitors ahead.
Villa pushed for the second goal as they were well on top. Captain Ron Vlaar headed just over when under pressure as Stoke struggled to get anything going in attack. Peter Crouch was brought off the bench for the final 20 minutes and his flick on played in Marko Arnautovic but the Austrian dragged his effort wide.
Despite Bojan getting on the ball and trying to break Villa;s stubborn defense down, the Birmingham-based club held on to get their season off and running.
-- Joe Prince-Wright, ProSoccerTalk.com