Watch Live: Aston Villa vs Stoke City (Lineups and Discuss)

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Former Villa striker Peter Crouch returns to his old stomping grounds as a Stoke City look to stretch their three-match unbeaten streak.

However, the home side will be much more focused on the fact that Stoke have not won away from the Britannia since August.

Aston Villa will hope they can avoid being the first in months as they host Crouch and company at Villa Park at 12:00ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Paul Lambert will welcome back on-loan Ryan Bertrand in his back line after the 24-year-old was forced to sit last weekend against his parent club Chelsea.

Also returning for Villa is a newly-fit Karim El Ahmadi despite being clattered by Ramires in the Chelsea match which earned the defender a straight red.  Fabian Delph makes his 27th start of the season, and was tipped by Lambert before the match for a spot in England’s World Cup squad.

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For Mark Hughes and Stoke, the news isn’t as helpful.  Oussama Assaidi still remains out with a knee injury despite prematch speculation that he could return.  Erik Pieters falls into the same category, who limped off the pitch last weekend. Still out are the suspended Jonathan Walters and Charlie Adam.

Peter Crouch isn’t the only former Aston Villa player to make his return to Villa Park.  19-year-old midfielder Charlie Ward, a former Villa academy product, is on the bench for the visitors.

LINEUPS:

Aston Villa – Guzan; Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand; El Ahmadi, Westwood, Delph; Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor.
Bench – Steer, Sylla, Holt, Clark, Albrighton, Bennett, Robinson.

Stoke City – Begovic; Pieters, Shawcross, Wilson, Cameron; Arnautovic, Palacios, Whelan, Nzonzi, Odemwingie; Crouch.
Bench – Sorensen; Muniesa, Guidetti, Shea, Wilkinson, Shotton, Ward.

2-year doping ban upheld for Finland, CSKA Moscow player

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld a two-year ban for CSKA Moscow midfielder Roman Eremenko for a positive test for cocaine.

[ MORE: Morata signs five-year contract at Chelsea ]

CAS says the ban imposed by UEFA was “appropriate” and dismissed the Finland international’s appeal.

[ MORE: Vertonghen says Spurs need to “level up” like rest of PL contenders ]

The ban will expire on Oct. 5, 2018, when Eremenko will be 31.

Eremenko tested positive after playing in a Champions League game for CSKA Moscow against Bayer Leverkusen last September. The 2-2 result was not affected despite Eremenko scoring CSKA’s second goal.

Born in Moscow, Eremenko grew up in Finland and has represented its national team 73 times.

Webb says De Jong would have been sent off with video review

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NEW YORK (AP) Howard Webb says he would have given Dutch midfielder Nigel De Jong a red card in the 2010 World Cup final if a video assistant referee had been in place.

The retired English referee showed De Jong a yellow card in the 28th minute for his karate kick into the chest of Spain’s Xabi Alonso. Hired in March to oversee video technology for professional soccer in the U.S. and Canada, Webb held a media seminar Friday ahead of its Aug. 5 launch in Major League Soccer.

Webb says: “Yes, it was a clear red card. It was a clear and obvious error on my part not to send the player off, and VAR would have been able to recommend a review to me, and I would have been able to make the right call.”

Now 46, Webb was a Premier League referee from 2003-14. He worked the Champions League and World Cup finals in 2010, became director of referees at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, and started in March as manager of video assistant referee operations for the Professional Referee Organization.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City 0-1 Atlanta United (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Friday night’s effort at Orlando City Stadium wasn’t the prettiest for either side but Atlanta United will gladly take three points from the fixture as the Central Florida venue proved to be a fortress once more. The Lions were far superior in their attacking threats throughout the match, testing USMNT and Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan on multiple occasions. However, it was Hector Villalba that proved to be the difference when he blasted a long-distance effort to beat Joe Bendik in the 86th minute. Atlanta extends its unbeaten streak to four matches with Friday’s decision, keeping Tata Martino’s side in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, while Orlando City moves into fifth.

Three moments that mattered

36′ — Guzan stands tall, denies Rivas — Carlos Rivas thought he scorched this one (and he did…), but Brad Guzan acted like it was nothing as he held his ground to make the stop.

39′ — Spector gets ripped off by Guzan — The U.S. goalkeeper is at it again… What a save!

86′ — Villalba unleashes stunner to propel Atlanta — Sometimes it just takes one good hit as a striker.

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Man of the match: Brad Guzan

Goalscorers: Hector Villalba (86′)

Report: Man City adding Mendy to continue backline restoration

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Fresh off of completing a record deal to help bolster the club’s back line this summer, Manchester City is back at it with the Premier League season looming.

[ MORE: Alvaro Morata signs five-year contract at Chelsea ]

The Citizens are reportedly on the brink of signing Monaco left back Benjamin Mendy to yet another world-record fee — which will total over $67 million.

Confirmation of the deal has yet to be announced by either team, but L’Equipe is reporting that the Citizens are hot on the 23-year-old’s trail in adding to their pricy back four.

Manager Pep Guardiola and Man City have not been shy readjusting their defensive unit over the past year, adding expensive first-team choices John Stones and Kyle Walker.