Swansea City-Aston Villa Preview


After a Boxing Day defeat on their own pitch to Crystal Palace, Aston Villa's Premier League season has reached a new low.

They'll try to snap a season-worst four-match losing streak Saturday at Villa Park against a Swansea City side that's showing slightly more promise.

Swansea (5-5-8) also haven't won in their last four, though they have two points to show for it and something to build off of after showing Chelsea a difficult time in a 1-0 defeat Thursday at Stamford Bridge. The Swans conceded in the 29th to Eden Hazard, though they were only able to manage one strike on goal.

"We felt we could have got something," defender Angel Rangel told the team's official website. "... At the end of the day, we tried hard and gave everything. To come to Chelsea and only concede one goal, and to put them under pressure for 25 minutes, it shows we have character. It was a game where I felt we could have drawn, but that's football and we have to move on."

Villa (5-4-9) also felt they could have drawn against Palace, though conceding Dwight Gayle's stoppage time goal to a squad with a league-high 12 losses left them with more of a sour taste than the Swans.

With two wins in nine home matches and a stretch of 276 minutes without a goal at Villa Park, manager Paul Lambert is looking for accountability and production.

"There's no magic formula," Lambert told the club's website. "There's more pressure because of the size of crowd but you should overcome that. That should be a given. The crowd are right on your side. You have to stand up and be counted. We have to get on the front foot. We have to create more. There shouldn't be too much pressure because you've got 40,000 behind you every time."

Villa remain stagnant at 19 points and are now just three points clear of relegation-zone leading Fulham. Swansea are one ahead, leading the crowded bottom half of the table with 20.

Both teams recognize positioning is up for grabs during the busy holiday week.

"I am not going to be downbeat," Lambert said. "You have to get them going again for Saturday. I have looked at the table. It's as tight as anything for midway through to right down."

Jumping Swansea on the table is going to require a positive result of the short-handed nature with striker Christian Benteke (knee) and defender Ron Vlaar (calf) missing the match.

Vlaar started the first 14 top-flight matches and has missed the recent losing streak. Benteke, well off his 19-goal pace from last season with four in 12 starts, will miss his third straight.

The Swans, meanwhile, have chosen to shuffle their starting 11. Leon Britton returned to the midfield against Chelsea after nearly a month off with a broken toe, highlighting six squad changes following a 2-1 home loss to Everton on Sunday.

A strong second-half showing could entice manager Michael Laudrup to stick with them.

"We believed a bit more in the second half," Britton said. "We were disappointed to lose but we can take things from this game for the Aston Villa match. We can be encouraged by today's performance. Villa lost today too against Crystal Palace so they will be looking to put that right at home."

Villa took four points from the Swans last season with a 2-0 win at Villa Park on Sept. 15, 2012 and a 2-2 draw on Jan. 1 at the Liberty Stadium.