Preview: Swans v Aston Villa
Swansea City will be hoping to provide some Christmas cheer when they host Aston Villa at the Liberty Stadium this afternoon (3pm).
The hosts will be looking to bounce back from the disappointment of their defeat at Hull on Saturday, where they fell to a 3-2 defeat having led 1-0 with just 20 minutes to go.
The late setback deprived them of a third win in a row, but they will face a stern test against a Villa side who have made a step forward under Dean Smith.
Their last-gasp defeat to Leeds was a first defeat in eight league games while, with Tammy Abraham in a rich vein of form, they certainly have not found goals hard to come by of late.
It will be interesting to see whether manager Graham Potter chooses to rotate his squad with the games coming thick and fast. Indeed, at kick-off time today there will be just 72 hours until Wigan are at the Liberty for the next Championship fixture.
The fitness of Wilfried Bony is being assessed after the striker felt some tightness in his groin at the KCOM Stadium.
The Ivorian gave the Swans the lead on his first league start for over a year, but Potter will not want to take any risks with the 30-year-old after his recent return from a long spell on the sidelines.
That may see Oli McBurnie restored to the starting line-up, while Bersant Celina may also come under consideration after scoring in consecutive games from the bench.
Daniel James is another who could feature after making his return from a hamstring strain as a substitute at Hull.
Martin Olsson (Achilles) is a long-term absentee while the game is likely to come too soon for Tom Carroll.
Graham Potter: “It’s absolutely a chance to bounce back. It’s a great game in that respect against a team with a lot of good quality players.
“Dean has added something to them as a team since coming in and we know it is going to be a difficult match.
“But is Boxing Day, we expect a full house, our support has been amazing and we hope everyone has had a good Christmas Day and they can come and really get behind the players because it will be a tough challenge for us.”
Erwin Mulder: “For sure we have to pick ourselves back up, they are big games for us coming up.
“We need the points if we want to look up the table. We have to win, it’s as simple as that.”
Dean Smith: “We will go all-out to try and make it to the top two.
“It looks a long way off at the moment with the points gap. But we will take it one game at a time – and that starts at Swansea.”
Remember the last time?
The Swans have a good record against Villa in SA1. In fact, the Villans have not left Swansea with a victory to their name since a 2-1 win at The Vetch in December of 1971.
The most recent clash in South Wales came at the Liberty Stadium in March 2016 when Federico Fernandez bundled home the only goal of the game to move the Swans closer to safety.
Villa would end that campaign being relegated from the Premier League.
Swansea also emerged victorious from their previous two hostings of the Villa Park side, claiming a 1-0 Boxing Day win thanks to a Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kick four years ago.
In April of that same year they had eased to a 4-1 success, which included a stunning long-range strike from Jonjo Shelvey.
9 – Tammy Abraham has been in red-hot form for Villa of late, with the on-loan Chelsea striker grabbing nine goals in just his last seven games.
12 – Swansea’s run of games without a draw was further extended at Hull. Over the last dozen games it has been a case of all or nothing for Potter’s men. The last time they shared the spoils was at Wigan on October 2.