Preview: Swans v Aston Villa
1st January 2013
The Swans look to start the New Year in the same way they signed off 2012 as they host Aston Villa at the Liberty today (3pm).
Micheal Laudrup's side ensured they would enter 2013 in the top half of the Barclays Premier League table thanks to a 2-1 victory at Fulham last weekend.
The Swans are unbeaten in their last three games with draws against leaders Manchester United and Reading either side of Christmas.
Villa, however, have lost their last three matches - 8-0 to Chelsea, 4-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur and last weekend's 3-0 defeat to Wigan at Villa Park.
It means Paul Lambert's side, who beat the Swans 2-0 at Villa Park in September, are just a point off third-bottom Southampton.
Swans boss Michael Laudrup will give a late fitness test to Spanish duo Michu and Angel Rangel.
Top scorer Michu missed the victory at Fulham with an ankle injury, while Rangel limped off with a sore calf and groin.
Villa welcome back midfielder Fabian Delph from suspension, although Darren Bent, Nathan Baker (both hamstring), Gabriel Agbonlahor (thigh), Charles N'Zogbia (knee) and Ron Vlaar (calf) all miss the trip to SA1.
What they said
Swans boss Michael Laudrup:"I was pleased with the three away points at Fulham. But that doesn't mean the game against Villa doesn't matter as much now.
"I still regard it as a key game because we are at home and have the chance to pass 30 points. Psychologically that will be very important, especially to come through a tough Christmas programme unbeaten with eight points from 12.
"We also know we've got difficult games coming up throughout January in both the league and the cup.
"That's why the game against Aston Villa is so important. I'm expecting a tough game. After three defeats with 15 goals against and nothing for, I know they will give everything. Villa will show spirit, attitude and fight from the first minute until the last because they will not want to be in that bottom three."
Villa manager Paul Lambert:"When you're competing with everyone else around you and you get turned over 3-0 at home, then it certainly hurts you, that's for sure.
"But you have to try and not let it fester, that's first and foremost. You have to put a stop to it.
"You have to keep their spirits up. You have to keep them believing and keep going. That's what you have to do."
The Swans have only won four of their last 20 meetings with Aston Villa (1D, 15L).
The Swans are unbeaten in their last three games played on New Year's Day.
In the top-flight, the Swans are the only side to have won every game in which they have opened the scoring.
Villa have conceded 15 goals and failed to score in their last three games. The record of 18 was set by Wigan between May-August 2010.
Villa ended the year with an 18th defeat of the calendar year - equaling a club record.
32Red odds: Swans win 4/7 Villa win 5/1 Draw 3/1