Meet the opposition: Aston Villa

3rd January 2019
First team

Swansea City take on Aston Villa for the third time this season when the two sides lock horns in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday (3pm).

It's their second meeting in just 10 days having faced off at the Liberty Stadium in the Championship on Boxing Day.

Villa emerged 1-0 victors thanks to Conor Hourihane's header, and Swansea will hope to turn the tables when they head to Villa Park.

Here's a guide to the hosts, their history, and their season to date.

What’s their story?

Having been one of the mainstay’s of the top-flight, Villa are now in their third-successive season in the Championship following relegation from the Premier League in 2016.

They reached the play-off final last term, only to miss out on a return to the first tier after suffering defeat to Fulham.

Their finest achievement came in the form of their European Cup triumph in 1982, and they also have seven league titles, seven FA Cups and five League Cups to their name.

They endured a difficult summer and a mixed start to the new campaign, but they have been a side on the move since the appointment of Smith in October.

How's their form?

As mentioned above, they did not make the best of starts to the season, which led to Steve Bruce’s departure and the appointment of Villa fan Smith, who left Brentford to take charge.

They have lost just one of their last 11 games - against high-flying Leeds. They had won just once in 10 games prior to Smith’s appointment.

They started the festive period on the fringes of the play-off places and ended it in 10th place, five points off the top six.

Who's the boss?

Smith has been the man tasked with reviving fortunes for the Villans and he has enjoyed a good start to his tenure and raised hopes of a return to the Premier League.

His stints in charge of Walsall and Brentford have seen him marked out as a man renowned for playing attractive football and producing competitive sides on a limited budget.

During his playing career the former defender he made over 550 league appearances for the likes of Walsall, Leyton Orient, Sheffield Wednesday and Port Vale.

He moved into coaching after hanging up his boots and was named Walsall boss in 2011, enjoying just shy of five successful years in the role, which included a remarkable escape from League One relegation when the Saddlers had been nine points from safety.

He switched to Brentford in 2016 and had the Bees in the play-off hunt in his two full seasons at the helm.

Who are the key men?

Striker Tammy Abraham – who spent last season on loan at Swansea from Chelsea – has been in fantastic form.

The 21-year-old has racked up 12 goals in his last 10 appearances, including four in a remarkable 5-5 draw with Nottingham Forest, and has been linked with a January move to Premier League Wolves.

Villa boast a strong midfield with John McGinn offering a mix of tenacity and guile, although they are without the injured Jack Grealish.

They are skippered by experienced Wales defender James Chester, and have another former Swan in their squad in the form of Neil Taylor.