The Swans were beaten by a single goal against Manchester United on Saturday and subsequently lost their first top flight game at the Liberty Stadium. Defeat knocked Brendan Rodgers’ side down to 13th in the table although they could consider themselves unlucky after missing a few gilt edged chance against the Red Devils. Scott Sinclair squandered the best of the lost miscuing his volley from six-yards out despite being in acres of space and having the goal at his mercy. However the Swans shouldn’t be discouraged by their defeat at the hands of the champions as they performed superbly displaying their slick passing game that has won them plenty of admirers this season. Their start to the season has surprised those who tipped them to be propping up the rest of the league and they go into the game against Villa with a real chance of moving back into the top ten. Their form at home as been the cornerstone of their success so far as have the performances from the likes of Michael Vorm, Ashley Williams, Nathan Dyer, Danny Graham and Sinclair who have all performed above expectations in the Premier League. A real test is coming in the form of a packed festive fixture list and a couple of injuries to key players could derail their hopes of achieving the revised supposition of finishing in mid-table. For now though the energy and confidence that is now being exuding from the Welsh side should see them continue to confound the critics with a positive result against Villa who they’ve beaten only three times in the last 17 meetings.
Alex McLeish’s side have been indifferent during the campaign so far winning just two of the last 10 league games despite putting in a series of exciting displays. The Scot has tightened the Villans up at the back and got Gabriel Agbonlahor firing on all cylinders with the pact striker scoring five goals this season and earning himself an England call-up. His partnership with Darren Bent is key to the way Villa operate and they’ll both need to be on top form to get the better of a stern Swansea defence and win away from home for the first time. The Midlanders have struggled on the road so far failing drawing four of their six games away from Villa Park and losing the other two and will need to start picking up victories on their travels if they are to maintain their top half position. They were brushed aside by Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Monday night and will need to improve on that insipid performance this week. A trip to Wales to the Swans isn’t the ideal way to start but a win against a side who have performed strongly at home could prove to be the catalyst for an upturn in form. The key to winning this weekend will depend on whether Steven Warnock and Alan Hutton can cut out the treat of Swansea’s pacy wingers Dyer and Sinclair as they will be tasked with supplying the prolific Graham. Should they cut out that threat then Villa will give themselves a good chance of coming away with points under their belt.
Swansea – 13th
Lost 1-0 v Manchester United (H), Drew 0-0 v Liverpool (A), Won 3-1 v Bolton (H), Drew 2-2 v Wolves (A), Lost 3-1 v Norwich (A)
Potential Starting X11: 1. M. Vorm 22. R. Angel 2. A. Williams 16. G. Monk [C] 3. N. Taylor 27. M. Gower 24. J. Allen 7. L. Britton 12. N. Dyer* 11. S. Sinclair 10. D. Graham
Injury News: Rodgers has no new injuries worries and could have on-loan defender Steven Caulker back after his spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Key Player: Nathan Dyer
The winger has had a superb start to life in the Premier League combining his rapid pace and skill to great effect as part of Swansea’s three pronged attack. Whilst the plaudits will be centred on Graham and Sinclair it’s Dyer that has impressed the most with his work rate up and down the right wing assisting defender Angel Rangel proving invaluable. It’s likely he’ll be up against Warnock this weekend and will fancy his chances of getting the better of the left back.
This will be the first time Swansea have faced Aston Villa in the Premier League with their last meeting in Wales coming 28 years ago in a 2-1 victory at the Vetch Field on 2nd May 1983.
Aston Villa – 8th
Lost 2-0 v Tottenham (A), Won 3-2 v Norwich (H), Drew 2-2 v Sunderland (A), Lost 2-1 v West Brom (H), Lost 4-1 v Manchester City (A)
Potential Starting X11
1. S. Given 2. A. Hutton 5. R. Dunne 6. J. Collins 3. S. Warnock 16. F. Delph 19. S. Petrov 31. C. Herd 11. G. Agbonlahor* 18. E. Heskey 9. D. Bent
Injury News: Villa have no fresh injuries to concern themselves with and McLeish goes into the game in Wales with a fully fit squad.
Key Player: Gabriel Agbonlahor
It’s been a super start to the season for the Villa striker with his exciting performances catching the eye of England boss Fabio Capello resulting in a call-up to the senior squad. Despite injury ruling him out of the two international friendlies Agbonlahor has been the stand out player in claret and blue so far with his explosive pace destroying defences in the blink of an eye. That will come in handy against a Swansea side who have been solid at home this season.
Match Fact: Villa haven’t travelled to Wales and beaten Swansea in a league game since when they won 2-1 at the Vetch Field on 27th December 1971.
Last Time at the Vetch Field
Division One (Old) 2 May 1983
Swansea 2-1 Aston Villa
It’s going to be interesting to see how Swansea respond to their first home defeat of the season after Manchester United became the only side to win at the Liberty Stadium. Rodgers’ side performed admirably against the Red Devil’s and must carry on that form when Villa come to Wales on Sunday. McLeish and his men has seen their form fluctuate rapidly this season with their lack of wins on the road starting to become a concern. Both sides have an abundance of pace and creativity at their disposal and neutral spectators can expect an entertaining game.