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    Aston Villa v Swansea - Match Preview

    by Conall Green
    Aston Villa welcome Swansea City to Villa Park on Saturday for a clash of two struggling sides, one that could prove pivotal to manager Tim Sherwood’s future at the club.
    Sherwood has failed to register a victory in the Premier League since the opening day of the season, and has watched his Villa side lose five consecutive league games since drawing at home to fellow strugglers Sunderland on 29 August.
    In the opposing dug-out, Swansea boss Garry Monk has come under a little pressure himself recently, overseeing a six game winless run in all competitions, including a 1-0 loss to Championship side Hull City in the League Cup last month. Swansea went down by the same scoreline at home to Stoke City on Monday night, thanks to a penalty from Bojan Krkic, a result which has seen bookmakers slash their odds after reportedly receiving a lot of money on Monk being the next Premier League manager to depart their job. Monk is now second favourite, behind only Sherwood.
    Villa are currently marooned in 19th place, already four points adrift of safety. One positive for Sherwood is that he will have a full squad to choose from, with club captain Gabby Agbonlahor having recovered from a calf injury, suffered against Birmingham City and Irish defender Ciaran Clark, fit again after his thigh problem. Agbonlahor’s pace should offer Villa an increased attacking threat, and could replace Rudy Gestede as the central striker, with the team having failed to score in their last two Premier league fixtures.

    Swansea City, who started the season so brightly, sit in 14th position on 10 points, six points and five places better off than their opponents. They have, however, failed to win in the league since victory over Manchester United on 30 August, which sparked murmurs of potential European qualification at the end of the season. This slump has coincided with a lull in form from Bafetimbi Gomis, who has failed to score in five Premier League games after scoring in the opening four fixtures.
    Monk has an almost fully fit squad to pick from, with only ex-Villa winger Wayne Routledge a doubt with an injured calf. Icelandic playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson could return to the starting 11 after looking lively after coming off the bench against Stoke.
    Both managers are defiant about their abilities to turn the fortunes around at their present clubs, with Garry Monk saying:
    "We're not playing at the performance levels we have but it's my job as manager and the players' responsibility to come through it.”
    “No-one puts more pressure on me than myself. This is an opportunity for us to put things right."
    Sherwood was in similarly positive mood, stating:
    "It's obviously a transition period. I am proud to be Aston Villa manager,"
    "We will need Villa Park bouncing tomorrow. We need the help of the fans. We will get through it."
    Both sides will be encouraged to play open attacking football, which could result in a decent game for the neutral. I think it will be a nervy encounter, especially for the home side, and this could lead to mistakes being made. The bookies have Swansea as slight favourites at 13-8, with the home side at 15-8. The draw is available at 2-1. This indicates they think it will be a close game, and I agree.
    Prediction: Aston Villa 2-2 Swansea City. Both sides to take a point, Sherwood to get a stay of execution.
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    Item Reviewed: Aston Villa v Swansea - Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Conall Green
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