Swansea City v Aston Villa
27th November 2011
Swansea City welcomes Aston Villa to the Liberty Stadium for the Premier League clash that`s live on Sky Sports.
The Super Sunday clash will see Aston Villa attempting to put right, the wrongs of their last non-existent outing at White Hart Lane which saw a Villa side roll over for Spurs` in an inept performance that`s got their fans screaming in dismay.
Aston Villa are currently sitting in 8th position, at the top of the second tier of the Premier League table. This, however, is a false sense of security for many Villa fans, as the results and performances would suggest that Villa are seriously struggling this term under former Birmingham manager Alex McLeish.
Villa have yet to play most of the teams ahead of them with the teams that they have faced in the higher echelons on the league (Man City and Spurs`) they have been left woefully outclassed.
Because of this, they face an exceptionally difficult December with games against: Manchester United, Bolton Wanderers, Liverpool, Arsenal, Stoke City and Chelsea, so this game is seen as make or break for Aston Villa fans.
Swansea will return to the Liberty 8 days after the narrow defeat to Manchester United. They`ll be in upbeat mood and Brendan Rodgers says that team morale is very high following their showing against the Premier League champions.
Swansea`s home record has been fantastic this season, conceding just two goals and only one defeat, so the odds on a home victory are popular with bookmakers.
With the Swans home record, they`ll be looking at all three points in this encounter. The only concern for the Swans really, is the lack of goals this term. Fantastic home record that may be, but Swansea City haven`t found enough goals to compliment their dominance in possession.
They have also failed to score on 5 occasions - the most by any team in the Premier League. Goals change games, so Swansea City have to make it count.
'We never laid a glove on Spurs. It was a poor performance.
'We stood off them. It was all half hearted kind of challenges as opposed to really believing in themselves.
'We've got to get rid of that side of things and make sure that doesn't happen again.
'If we are going to go down, we are going to go down with a massive fight and leave every team thinking 'Villa were really about it today' But we weren't the other night.
'We did some fleeting things but just not enough.
'While it is no disgrace to lose to a team like Tottenham, we are certainly a lot better than that.
'There were a few individual performances which were so unlike these guys and we will see what the reaction is on Sunday. I'm looking for a big reaction.
'We have to atone for the other night. We have to apologise to the fans in the best way possible and that's with a rousing performance.
'It's not a performance I want to see repeated.
'We never really got close to Spurs. We watched them play their beautiful trademark football. I don't want to see my teams do that!'
'It's a tough game. Swansea are a good footballing team with a lot of pace and ability. The Swansea team have been playing that way for three or four years because they were doing it that way with Roberto in charge.
'Brendan has inherited a bunch of guys who like to pass the ball but he is a coach who also likes to play in that style. He has carried on the recent tradition of Swansea.
'But, as I said, we've got to show our fans that we want to atone for that performance on Monday night.
'The good thing about this squad of players so far this season is that they have bounced back well and I expect them to bounce back well at the weekend.'
Rodgers revealed he is indebted to McLeish, then Birmingham City manager, for the support he gave him during a difficult time in his career.
'I have an awful lot of respect for Alex McLeish,' said Rodgers.
'When I lost my job at Reading it was the first time in my professional career where I had been out of work,' said Rodgers.
'Football is a tough school as when you lose your job everyone calls and then everyone forgets.
At the time it hit me hard and he was one of the first to text me, but on top of that he invited me up on to the training ground for the day.
'I arrived at half nine in the morning and from then until four in the afternoon he never left my side. I had a fantastic day with him.
I felt a real sense of him being a great man and he understood and recognised in the position I was in that I needed the support, and I will always feel that was a very significant day for me.
'He was a terrific player and he has managed some terrific clubs, and at international level, and that is why I know how difficult this game will be on Sunday.'
'I have no worries whatsoever. These players know every game is a big game and it's my job to reinforce that,' he said.
'Every game is vital and every home game in particular, we are not at that level where we can pick and choose when we will be at our best.'
Swansea City Team News:
Swansea City welcomes back a fully fit Joe Allen to the starting line-up after his recovery from injury. Allen is likely to start in a midfield that will feature; Leon Britton and Mark Gower.
Steven Caulker has resumed full training following his shin injury in the defeat to Arsenal. He`ll need some game-time before he`s ready for a start. He`ll find a place on the bench with Steven Dobbie who has returned to full fitness.
Player to watch: Joe Allen
Joe Allen found himself on the fringes at the start of Swansea`s campaign. The Swansea faithful knew deep down that he needed more game-time to make the difference for the Swans, and following the injuries to Kemy Agustien and Leon Britton, he got his chance. Since then, he`s been exceptional for the Swans. Rarely giving the ball away and always looking up to create opportunities for his team mates. A special young talent that could play in almost any Premier league team.
Aston Villa Team News:
Aston Villa will hand a late fitness test to Stiliyan Petrov following his hamstring strain. Gabby Agbonlahor should be fit to start, and Chris Herd should return to the starting line-up.
ermaine Jenas will be in the squad following the omission at the Spurs` game as he was ineligible
Player to watch: Barry Bannen
The industrious, talented young player on the books at Villa works tirelessly for the cause. He pressures the ball and makes things happen for Agbonlahor.
Sadly though, I expect Bannan to make an appearance from the bench given Alex McLeish` somewhat strange selection policy
Match Facts & Stats
The last time the clubs met was in May 1983, when Aston Villa were European champions. The game finished 2-1 to the Swans at the Vetch Field.
The only other top-flight game between the two sides also saw Swansea victorious by a 2-1 score line. Aston Villa was defending League Champions at the time.
The total head-to-head sees Villa win 14 of the 17 games played against the South Wales side, including cup matches.
Swansea have let in fewer goals at home (two) than any other side in the top flight. They have kept five clean sheets in this season's Premier League.
They have yet to suffer back-to-back league defeats in 2011. They have not lost successive home games in the same season since February 2007.
The Swans have lost all five matches in which they conceded the opening goal.
Brendan Rodgers' side have failed to score in six league matches this season - more than any other club in the division.
Villa are winless in their last six Premier League away matches since May. It's their worst away run from the start of a season since an eight-match streak without victory in 2003.
They mustered just three shots against Tottenham on Monday night, their fewest in a Premier League match in the last six seasons according to Opta.
They have dropped an unsurpassed nine points from winning positions this season, having surrendered a league-high 26 points in 2010/11.
Stephen Ireland could make his 200th club career appearance.
41 year-old Neil Swarbick from Preston will take charge of this one. He`s officiated 13 games this season, flashing 48 yellow cards and one red card. This will be his 5th Premier League match, having already officiated 5 Championship games, two games in League 2 and a single match in League 1.
It`s hard to see anything but a home win in this one. If Aston Villa play anything like they did against Spurs` then Brendan Rodgers` men could get a hat-full of goals. Swansea will dominate possession regardless of which Villa side turn up, but if Villa continue to cough up possession of the ball as they did against Spurs`, then Alex McLeish` men will be heading back down the M4 empty handed. 2-0 Swans.
Saturday 3rd December 2011 3pm kick-off
Blackburn Rovers v Swansea City