Preview: Aston Villa v Swans

5th January 2019
First team

After making a great start to 2019 with victory at Reading, Swansea City's attentions switch to the FA Cup as they take on Aston Villa in the third round this afternoon (3pm).

The sides will need no introduction to each other given they have already played twice this season, with the most-recent encounter coming just 10 days ago at the Liberty Stadium.

On both those occasions the Swans have been left frustrated after suffering a pair of 1-0 defeats in games where they had chances to emerge with a positive result.

While there will be no points on the line this time, Graham Potter's side will be keen to avoid losing a third game in a row to Dean Smith's men and build some momentum after a difficult Christmas period.

And Swans fans will have memories of last season's run to the quarter-finals - the first time the club had gone so far in the tournament in 54 years - fresh in their minds, even if the Championship remains the priority.

It promises to be an intriguing afternoon.

Team news

Swansea are waiting on the fitness of Jefferson Montero, Wilfried Bony and Oli McBurnie, all of whom were unable to train on Thursday due to sickness, while Tom Carroll and Martin Olsson are sidelined.

Manager Potter rotated heavily in the Carabao Cup earlier this season but has insisted he will not rotate for rotation's sake this weekend, and will look to field as strong a side as possible once the squad have been assessed following a run of four games in 11 days.

But some changes are likely to be made and the likes of Barrie McKay, Declan John, Yan Dhanda and Joel Asoro will be hopeful of getting a chance to show what they can do.

Pre-match views

Graham Potter: "It's not going to be an easy match, that's for sure, but we went toe-to-toe with them in both games, we could have maybe nicked a point.

"The fine margins went against us, as they have done quite often, so we have to go there and turn them in our favour."

Leroy Fer: “Every competition is important, be it the league, the EFL Cup or the FA Cup. We don’t know what the gaffer will do but everybody wants to play, as always.

“It has been a busy time, the gaffer might rest players or not, but we want to win.

“We play a team we have lost to twice already this season, so we want to prove something against them.

“It’s a different game, a knock-out game and it’s all or nothing.”

Dean Smith: "The FA Cup is a big competition. It gets overshadowed with the funds that are available in the Premier League. But I have said to the players, if they have a good 15-year career - unless they are at one of the biggest clubs in Europe - they will have three opportunities to be successful a season.

"Even with my maths, that's 45 opportunities, that's not very many and they go by very quickly. So take them seriously and you have to try and grab one of those opportunities to win a cup or a league or get promoted."

Remember the last time?

Swansea's last trip to Villa Park came as recently as October in what was Dean Smith's first game in charge of the Villans.

On an emotional day where the hosts paid tribute to former chairman Sir Doug Ellis, they started strongly and took the lead through a Tammy Abraham header.

The visitors were much-improved after the break but could not make it count as a flurry of chances inside the last 25 minutes went begging.

Looking further back. the first two meetings between Swansea and Villa came in the FA Cup in 1924 and 1925 in SA1.

The Midlands' club ran out winners on both occasions, and this will be the first time they have met in the competition since the latter of those encounters nearly a century ago.

Prime numbers

2 - Aston Villa have played 12 games on home turf to so far this season and lost just two of them. Only one of those has come during Smith's tenure, and that came via a 95th minute winner for Championship leaders Leeds in a five-goal thriller.

3 - Swansea City reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup last season, successfully negotiating three replays along the way. Draws against Wolves, Notts County and Sheffield Wednesday were all followed by wins at the Liberty Stadium at the second time of asking.