Paul Lambert’s first point as Aston Villa manager last weekend against Newcastle will hopefully provide a springboard to further success this weekend. Swansea are the visitors to Villa Park and Michael Laudrup’s side are no pushovers, having started the season with two wins and a draw.
Villa need a spark with this season looking to be difficult for Lambert, who took over at the start of the season from Alex McLeish. The decline at Villa Park has been alarming with star players such as Gareth Barry, James Milner, Stewart Downing and Ashley Young leaving in the last few seasons. Lambert has the task of survival with a young squad who started the season poorly, but the draw at the Sports Direct Arena helps matters hugely.
Lambert took the decision to replace Ireland international Shay Given in net with American goalkeeper Brad Guzan and the plan worked with Guzan pulling off some world-class saves. Guzan could retain his place, but Villa will be without Marc Albrighton and Richard Dunne who are a few weeks away from making their first starts of the season.
Swansea have started the season brilliantly under Laudrup and have provided fans with great excitement in their fixtures. The Swans have scored ten times already this year and Laudrup has maintained the attacking philosophy that Brendan Rodgers held before his move to Liverpool. A bleak future was predicted when the Swans lost Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair, as well as missing out on the permanent signing of Gylfi Sigurdsson after his loan deal. However, they are flying high and will be confident of victory on their travels in the Midlands.
Injuries were a worry in their last fixture, a 2-2 draw with Sunderland, and left-back Neil Taylor had to be stretchered off the field after breaking his ankle. That has ruled the Welshman out for the rest of the season and Laudrup also saw defender Chico Flores receive a three-match ban for his red card after a high boot on Black Cats striker Louis Saha. Dwight Tiendalli has been signed from FC Twente to deputise for Taylor and he is expected to make his debut against Villa.
The Swans have the better track record against Villa after securing two wins last season, including a good 2-0 victory at Villa Park. Lambert’s team need positive performances to raise the spirits from fans and a Swansea win would not be the most ideal situation.