It is quite amazing to think what a difference a few weeks can make in football. A few weeks ago, I, like many others was dreading another game under Steve Bruce. Tomorrow, we welcome Swansea City to Villa Park with a new manager at the helm and things feel positive for the first time in a long time.
Christian Purslow has described it as a new era. Who am I to argue with that? I can’t wait to see what Dean Smith has in store for us. I am clearly not alone in thinking that as the fans have flocked to Villa Park with tomorrow being a complete sell-out.
Villa will also pay tribute to the late Sir Doug Ellis. The President Emeritus and former Chairman will be honoured with a host of activities during the build-up to kick off. You can read more about this on the official website.
Swansea have started the season at a steady pace and find themselves two points above Villa in the Championship. Like Smith, Swansea manager Graham Potter will be hoping to turn their fortunes around and make a push for promotion.
The Swans have won just one of their previous six Championship fixtures. They have averaged 1 goal per game and conceded 9 in their opening 12 games. With an average of just 10.6 shots per game (the fourth lowest in the league) you can see why they don’t score too many.
Potters side average 52.6% of the ball during games, compared to a Steve Bruce Aston Villa average of 53.6%. At 7.5 interceptions per game, it is the worst in the division. As Smith stated, we must pay Swansea respect but the game needs to be about the home side.
ONE TO WATCH
Defender Joe Rodon has formed a strong partnership in the heart of the Swansea defence with Mike van der Hoorn. The 20-year-old Welsh defender has the highest average rating amongst the Swans side so far this season.
He is known for his passing ability and his dribbling out of defence. He isn’t the best at tackling though and we should look to pressure him due to his young age.
James Chester is almost certain to return following his one-match suspension against Millwall. Scott Hogan will be hoping the appointment of his former Brentford manager will increase his game time at Villa Park this season.
Smith hasn’t given away too much in regards to his team selection this weekend so it will be interesting to see with what he goes with.
Swansea will be without Wilfried Bony and Jefferson Montero. Both are back in training but are said to be a few weeks away from a return to first team football.
HEAD TO HEAD
Aston Villa and Swansea have played each other just 27 times in all competitions. Villa edge the victories by 15 to 9.
Smith will hope he can turn around the recent form as Swansea have beat Villa on each of the last 5 meetings. In fact, Villa has only won 1 of the last 11 meetings.
The first-ever meeting between the two sides took place back in 1924. Villa came out on top in a 2-0 win in an FA Cup tie.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Predicted XI: Nyland; Bree, Chester, Tuanzebe, Taylor; Bjarnason, McGinn; Adomah, Grealish, Bolasie; Abraham.
Kick Off: 15.00
TV: AVTV (Not available in the UK)
Tickets: Sold out
Odds: Villa 9/10, Draw 13/5, Swansea 7/2. (Bet365)