Villa v Swans: The big talking points
Swansea City will look to bounce back from their home defeat to Ipswich Town when they go to Aston Villa this weekend.
Here are all the key discussion points heading into Saturday’s clash at Villa Park.
Hit the road, Jacks
The Swans were frustrated by defeat to Ipswich a fortnight ago as they were beaten despite dominating the game.
But they will be upbeat about their chances of responding to that results as they hit the road once more.
After all, Graham Potter’s men have been impressive on their travels so far this season.
They have clinched dramatic wins at Sheffield United – who now lead the way at the top of the table – and Millwall, while there have been satisfactory draws at Birmingham, Middlesbrough and Wigan.
Their solitary away defeat thus far came at Stoke, when Joe Allen’s contentious goal was the difference.
No wonder, therefore, that the Swans have belief when they go away from home right now.
Party in the Park?
The Swans have tended to enjoy their recent visits to Villa Park.
For a long time they struggled there, with seven defeats in their first seven trips to the claret and blue corner of Birmingham, with a cumulative goal difference in that run of Villa 17 Swans 0.
But the Swans broke their duck on Villa’s patch in 2012, when goals from Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge secured the club’s first Premier League away win.
Michael Laudrup’s side lost there the following season, before a draw in 2013 and Swans victories in 2014-15 and most recently 2015-16, when Andre Ayew netted a late winner.
Can the Swans make it three in a row this weekend?
A big day for Villa
The Swans may not be facing Villa at the ideal time.
The Midlands heavyweights have been struggling for form, having won just one of their last 11 games, but they will have fingers crossed that the appointment of new boss Dean Smith brings instant rewards.
John Terry is also back at the club as part of Smith’s coaching staff, and hopes will be high that a squad which is packed with talent can now start delivering some more results.
As well as the new manager factor, the passing of long-time Villa chairman Sir Doug Ellis last week will make for an emotional atmosphere.
Neil Taylor clocked up 179 appearances for the Swans after joining the club from non-league Wrexham back in 2010.
The Welsh left-back, a fine servant during the finest period in the Swans’ history, could face his former club for the first time this weekend.
The same goes for Tammy Abraham, who had mixed fortunes during his loan spell at the Liberty last season – but has made a bright start to life in a Villa shirt having joined them on a temporary deal.
The Swans could include one Villa old boy, Wayne Routledge, who played a handful of games during a year-long stay at the club a decade ago.
What price an early goal?
In truth, the odds on the Swans scoring early should be fairly long.
After all, they have not netted in the first half of an away league game since Leroy Fer found the target at Everton way back in December last year.
Since then, there have been 16 away trips in the Premier League and Championship.
The Swans have scored 10 goals in those 16 games, but not one of them has come before the break.
Surely that sequence has to end sometime soon?
Smith’s first priority as Villa’s main man may be to focus on defending.
That is because the team he inherits have inherited 20 goals in their 12 league games to date this season.
Only Preston (24 goals) have conceded more in the Championship this term, so it is clear where Villa need to improve.
They have scored 20 goals themselves, which is a more than respectable tally.
That is eight more goals, for example, than the Swans have managed in the league so far in 2018-19.
The good news for Villa’s defence is that influential centre-back James Chester returns from suspension this weekend.