Aston Villa continue their search for a first Premier League win since the opening day of the season when they take on another out-of-form side, Garry Monk’s Swansea City.
There was not a great deal between Villa and defending champions Chelsea last weekend, but they slipped to another defeat which already leaves them four points adrift of the safety line. It was largely self-inflicted, with goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender Joleon Lescott combining to gift the Blues their opener, and such is the extent of Villa’s struggles at present, they rarely looked like getting back into the game before an unfortunate Alan Hutton own goal sealed their fate.
The opening goal came as another kick in the stomach for manager Tim Sherwood, who is under enough pressure without his side taking unnecessary risks at the back. The former Tottenham boss finds his position – rather harshly – in severe doubt and simply must see his side achieve a positive result here, especially as another loss would see the already considerable discontent among supporters increase and intensify the speculation linking David Moyes to the his role.
But Swansea are badly in need of a result themselves, having slipped into mediocrity since the beginning of September and the frustration is beginning to show among players and fans. Monk has had an extremely successful and serene tenure thus far, but this is his first true test, and, as is often said, his true ability as a manager will be revealed by how he goes about arresting the current slide, which came so suddenly after a fine first few weeks of the season.
On Monday against Stoke City they were always lacking in ideas and inspiration in their attempts to breach what was a very organised defence. Modou Barrow failed to impress after being given a start and despite the introductions of Ki Sung-Yueng and Gylfi Sigurdsson they rarely looked like coming back from going a goal behind early on. However, such is the pressure on Villa here that the Swans can play with an element of freedom and will be optimistic about a return to form.
A welcome boost for Villa comes in the shape of three players back to fitness, with forward Gabriel Agbonlahor available along with defenders Ciaran Clark and Jores Okore.
Ki and Sigurdsson are likely to be restored to the Swansea starting line-up, but there are still doubts over Wayne Routledge.
Last Meeting: Swansea produced a good performance to get the better of Villa back in March and continue their march towards a record Premier League points tally. The only goal came just three minutes from time when Bafetimbi Gomis – who had twice been denied by Brad Guzan – latched on to Jefferson Montero’s pass and made no mistake.
Played for both – Luke Moore: The striker began his career at Aston Villa and made his first-team debut against rivals Birmingham City in 2004. He went on to make 87 Premier League appearances for the club, scoring 14 goals before leaving in 2008. He joined Swansea two and-a-half years later and helped them earn promotion to the top-flight, where he scored five times in 37 outings for the Welsh club.