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Aston Villa v Swansea

Steve BowerBy Steve Bower
BBC Match of the Day commentator

Barclays Premier League

  • Venue: Villa Park
  • Date: Monday, 2 January
  • Kick-off: 1500 GMT
  • Coverage: Watch highlights on Match of the Day; listen on BBC Radio 5 live and local radio; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

Live text and stats

 

Monday, 2 January 2012

Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Aston Villa v Swansea 15:00

ASTON VILLA

SWANSEA

Possession

  • Aston Villa 50%
  • Swansea 50%

Darren Bent Darren Bent could return to the Aston Villa starting line-up against Swansea

TEAM NEWS

Aston Villa will assess captain Stiliyan Petrov, who limped off in Saturday’s 3-1 win away to Chelsea.

Darren Bent may start after scoring on his return from injury as a substitute at Stamford Bridge, while the fit-again Emile Heskey may be on the bench.

Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers is likely to freshen up his side, with Danny Graham and Leon Britton set to start.

On-loan defender Steven Caulker will return, having been ineligible to face parent club Tottenham on Saturday.

MATCH PREVIEW

These two clubs begin a new calendar year leaving behind very different emotions from the last one. While Swansea try to build on what Brendan Rodgers has described as an “iconic” 12 months, Aston Villa’s aim has to be some stability and consistency. For Villa, 2011 was certainly a rollercoaster year that saw messrs Houllier, McAllister and McLeish all in charge of the team, a flirtation with relegation and a club record outlay of £24m on Darren Bent.

Brendan Rogers’ team have won many admirers as well as points with their brand of football

That kind of spending won’t be repeated this January but the challenge is for them to show the resilience and determination that was so clearly evident in their victory at Chelsea on a more regular basis.

That result will have been a timely reminder of what they can achieve. The enigmatic Stephen Ireland played a key role against the Blues – if Villa can get the Irishman performing anywhere near the level he reached at Manchester City under Mark Hughes, it will feel like a new signing, and a talented one too.

Villa have lost four of their last five home games but a match against the side with the worst away record in the league gives Alex McLeish’s team an opportunity to start a better run of results. Villa’s home form was always the foundation of the top-six finishes achieved under Martin O’Neill.

When Swansea were beating Reading in the Championship to begin 2011, who would have thought that 12 months on they would have 20 points on the board at the halfway stage in the Premier League, having just drawn with Tottenham? It’s been a remarkable journey that is still gathering pace and Brendan Rogers’ team have won many admirers as well as points with their brand of football. Their defensive foundation has been impressive too, with eight clean sheets on the board.

The one area that will be a concern that could yet jeopardise the fairytale is their away form. They are the only team yet to win away in the top flight, having managed just three points and six goals on their travels, and that is adding extra pressure to their performances at the Liberty Stadium. Three points at Villa Park would be their perfect start to the new year.

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • This is only the 19th meeting between the sides. Aston Villa have won 14, Swansea three and there has only been one draw – which was 0-0 earlier this season.
  • Aston Villa won their two previous encounters with Swansea in the top flight at Villa Park; 3-0 in the 1981-82 season and 2-0 in the 1982-83 campaign.

Aston Villa

  • Villa had failed to score in five out of seven Premier League matches before netting three against Chelsea.
  • They have lost their last three matches at home – to Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.
  • In fact, they have lost four out of their last five league games at Villa Park and won only three out of nine at home this season.
  • They have scored 11 and conceded 11 at home.

Swansea

  • The Swans are the only team in the top flight without an away win.
  • They have scored just six goals in their nine matches away from the Liberty Stadium.
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