Showing posts with label Aston Villa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Aston Villa. Show all posts

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

2013/14 - The final four predictions!

It's almost over - and not a moment too soon! With just four important games left to secure survival for a faltering Swansea City, our former Swan ALEC JOHNSON takes one last look at what we can expect, and shares his score predictions.

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By Alec Johnson

Before we look forward to the final four crucial matches, let's briefly take one last glance at last Sunday’s encounter - the 1-0 loss to Chelsea.

After starting so brightly and competing for possession, our tempo and movement gave us real hope of picking something up from the ‘bonus’ game that nobody expected anything from. We won every challenge for the first 15 minutes, except the two that Chico lost. How cheap they were and how expensive they could be.

The Terry and Jose anger tactics played the part necessary to see our pantomime villain sent off once again. What happened next was a mistake in my opinion - hauling off Pablo (who had started with real purpose) and leaving Dyer on (who had started poorly) was an own goal in itself. The logic I get - keep the pace and hard-working runner on - but I felt we needed the form player to sit in the middle and hurt when necessary. We lost, but not without heart and spirit.

So where does that leave us? A strange bag of results threw my ‘super six’ predictions off course and the blew the bottom wide open. We are now a game away from level points in the trap door.


Newcastle United (away) - Sat, 19 April

First up, a trip to Newcastle. St James Park isn’t what it used to be. The Geordies have turned on Pardew showing their lack of appreciation for the punchy cockney with a set of banners last weekend. Their form is poor having lost the last four, while their record of lowest goals scored and most conceded in the top half isn’t a proud medal to carry.

Therefore it’s all about the start. If we get at them early on and unsettle the crowd, breaking the confidence, we can get a grip and win by a couple as we did last season. I do feel that there will be a reaction and a fight, but I cannot see us getting beat, so I will throw in a nervy 1-1 draw. Probably something that both clubs would take before of the game.


Aston Villa (home) - Sat, 26 April

Next up is Villa at home. The away fixture over Christmas ranks as one of my most frustrating in recent years. We battered them for 80 minutes, keeping almost 99% of the ball and the Jack Army were awesome from start to finish. We deserved better, but took a point. This is payback and I believe we can boss this and hurt them at home, hopefully through our three winger approach, which is so effective at the Liberty. I will go for a 2-0 win, edging us towards safety on 37 points with two games to go.


Southampton (home) - Sat, 3 May

Are they on the beach yet? Some are already at the World Cup and going through the motions. On their day they can be devastating and I do feel that they will be up for it on their last away game of the season. Assuming we have collected the four points from the previous two fixtures, I can see us losing this one as they play with freedom and flair. So it’s a 2-1 defeat in my eyes, leaving a nail-biting finish.


Sunderland (away) - Sun, 11 May

The finale! I haven’t considered the other results going on around us but I assume the bottom three will consist of Sunderland, Norwich and either Cardiff or Fulham on the final day. Wouldn’t it have been great to go to the Riverside leaving Sunderland win to send Cardiff down? I would have celebrated each goal flying in past Vorm.

However, given their run of games and shocking form I think they will be down before kick-off. That can only help us, so I see the Swans picking up something and celebrating survival - an ugly point or three will do nicely sitting on 38 points, or even the targeted 40. I'm going for a 2-2 draw.

Then we can all breathe and regroup, before a summer that will undoubtedly see considerable change at our beloved football club.


Agree with Alec? Or dare you disagree? Leave your own score predictions below! And make sure to follow Alec on Twitter.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Swansea City 0 - 2 Aston Villa: There's always one...

A poor performance and a deserved loss. It was bound to happen at some point, although we hoped it would be slightly later on in the year. If it helps, I almost got my match prediction right...

After a bright opening quarter, Swansea conceded the first goal when a shot from Matthew Lowton sailed past Vorm, via a deflection from Alan Tate. Otherwise the first half was very promising, with three great chances from the Swans. On 45 minutes it was still anyone's game.

Now, I'm not sure what was said in the dressing room at half-time, but it didn't help.
In the second half Swansea tried to play their usual game, but simply made too many mistakes - losing the ball through loose passes and allowing Villa to dispossess them too easily. Clearing the box also proved to be a rare difficulty today, and allowed the home side to pile on pressure.

The players all tried (or looked like they were trying), but it just didn't work out for them. Michu was as feisty as usual - picking up a yellow card - but looked clumsy at times and wasn't as effective. Jonathan de Guzman didn't offer as much support up front as last time. Pablo Hernandez looked more effective than Routledge when he came on - I wish he had come on sooner. Luke Moore came on late, but made something of himself and had the most shots out of any other Swans player (four, with one on target).

Alan Tate, who needed a good game, had a decent one. He never strikes me with pure confidence, but he made a block, a few successful clearances and won most of his aerial battles.

For me Nathan Dyer was the man-of-the-match (for Swansea at least), with plenty of tireless running. He seemed to take a more central role at times, which allowed him a few shots (including a rocket in the first half). He worked hard and tried to win the team a penalty (which - correctly by the referee - wasn't given), and caused havoc as always.

A blunder, a boob, a fault - call it what you will, but Ashley Williams certainly made the biggest mistake of the day. A casual header back to Vorm allowed Christian Benteke to take it away and knock it in. Williams made a similar error earlier in the game, but saved himself. No such luck the second time. Despite a generally superb start of the season for Swansea, Williams has struggled and made more mistakes than usual. Still, he's a vital name on the team sheet and concerned us all when he began limping around in the second half. Needless to say, Swansea do not need any more defensive injuries!

Apart from creating a few good chances in the first half, there are not many positives to take away from this game. Such a shame there was no end product to some of the exciting counter-attacking. Still, after four games, Swansea are in fifth place in the Premier League! That makes it all better.

Elsewhere, all credit to Aston Villa who didn't do anything amazing, but strung together some attractive passes and really capitalised on every one of Swansea's mistakes. This result surely kick-starts their season.

All in all, it really was one to forget today! Onto next Saturday, where the team can redeem themselves against Everton back on home soil.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Swansea City vs. Aston Villa: Defensive woes...

The clearest, biggest, fattest issue that must be addressed before we discuss the upcoming game against Aston Villa is Swansea City's defence. Or lack of it...

We all winced when we saw Neil Taylor stretchered off against Sunderland. The wince turned into a violent shudder when we heard he would be out all season with a fractured ankle. One vital player down. In the same game, another defender ruled himself out of the next three games - the ever-feisty Chico Flores. He'll be serving the first of his three-match ban for his stupidly high tackle on Louis Saha. That's another key man gone.

Then we had a moment of good news/bad news. The good news was we all remembered Kyle Bartley had been signed for situations just like this! Brilliant - an ex-Arsenal/Rangers defender, eager to make his mark on the team! The bad news... yeah, you guessed it - he's injured. Ruled out for three months with a thigh injury picked up in training. Typical.
Don't fret (or stop your current fretting) - Swansea do have a few options. There are those full of potential, like Jazz Richards and Ben Davies, but Swansea do need someone with experience to fall back on. Thankfully, the club have signed former Holland under-21 international Dwight Tiendalli on a season long contract (a good-value free-transfer). He'll replace Taylor on the left. I've not seen anything of Tiendalli, so whether he will be as strong going forward (or at the back for that matter) will need to be seen.

Now... this is it for Alan Tate.

Really, this is his big chance to make an impact in the Premier League. Tate had a frustrating time last season with injuries and defensive competition, but he now has three full Premier League games to show that he can cope with the power and pace of the best attackers in the country. He will slot into the centre-back role next to Williams. Come on Alan - this is your moment.

Elsewhere, the Swansea starting XI (that's '11' for those who didn't do Latin in school) still isn't as predictable as last season. In a good way I guess, as there is a little choice among the rest of the squad.

We should see the same effective trio start in the middle: Britton, Michu and de Guzman. Originally I had a feeling Sung-Yueng would start this one, but he is likely to begin on the bench after fitness concerns. He played 90 minutes for South Korea in their World Cup qualifying match on Tuesday - we don't want to risk another injury now, do we?

Nathan Dyer, overlooked for the England squad once again, will appear on the wing. While his exclusion from the England squad seems ridiculous to everyone except Roy Hodgson, at least every time he pulls on a Swans shirt he will feel like he has something to prove, and that can't be a bad thing for Swansea City.

Joining Dyer on the wing will probably see the d├ębut appearance for Pablo Hernandez. This may be a little harsh on Wayne Routledge who has been nothing short of superb in the opening games, capped off by a superb goal against Sunderland two weeks ago. It would be good to see what Hernandez can do though, so I wouldn't say no to Routledge sitting this one out.

Now, onto Aston Villa. It's not been a convincing start for Paul Lambert's men - one point from three games sees them just one place above the relegation zone in this early stage. Without a win in 13 Premier League games, Villa will be gagging for three points.

Not sure about you, but I have a feeling Villa may nick it. For the first three matches I was optimistic but I just have this looming feeling of a loss on the cards for the Swans.

As you know, now and again I like to link up with an opposition blogger to share thoughts ahead of the game. This week we have Stuart Young from avillafan.com, who knows Villa inside out and has given us some brief thoughts:

There is a new positive vibe around Villa Park following the appointment of Paul Lambert. Too many people in the media were quick to jump on the Villa faithful last season for them not getting behind Alex McLeish. In reality, the vast majority did give him a chance, but his negative style of football soon turned us.
Anyway: this is a new Aston Villa. We wont make out that we will return to the heights we found ourselves under Martin O'Neill this season but we hope for slow and steady improvement to get back into that position.
Lambert, didn’t hang around, and brought in seven new faces during the summer - some will make an instant impact, while others will take time. I fully expect the new manager to stick with the same side that managed a score-draw with Newcastle. So we should line up something like this:
Guzan 
Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Lichaj 
Holman, El-Ahmadi, Ireland, Bannan 
Weimann, Bent
I wouldn't be surprised to see both Gabby Agbonlahor and new signing Christian Bentake come off the bench and make some kind of impact.
It wont be an easy game for us, but I believe we must get a win and really kick start our season. 

Thankfully Swansea's first three games have produced seven points, so a slip up won't be taken too badly. This doesn't mean Swansea can afford to lose this match - there will be plenty of time to lose matches against bigger teams. Aston Villa, once a top six club, are now struggling at the wrong end of the table and Swans need to kick them when they're down so to speak.
 
As I mention, I'm not as confident as usual for Swansea to get a result, despite the amazing start. I will say Aston Villa to win 2-1 (odds around 7/1). Another bet I've been happy to cover recently is Michu to score two or more, this week at around 18/1 - worth a pound or three with his record!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Swansea City 2 – 0 Aston Villa: Happy New Year!

Swansea marked the start of 2012 and the halfway point of the season with a slick performance and generally comfortable win against Aston Villa. A significant first away win in the Premier League, marking the halfway point in the season.

Swansea looked strong, fast and confident going forward, with goals from both starting wingers – Nathan Dyer early in the first half and Wayne Routledge early in the second.

In the 4th minute, Dyer pounced on a silly back flick from Stephen Warnock and, after a slight deflection, put the ball in the back on the net. Routledge had his in the 47th with a follow up to Danny Graham's post hit. A scrappy goal, but his first for the Swans: a long time coming and well deserved.

After recent weeks, Dyer seemed to be back to his old form and used his usual brand of high speed and skill to make a nuisance of himself against Villa's back line. The inclusion of Andrea Orlandi was quite a shock before the game, but he did enough to impress with some nice touches and a wonderful strike in the first half. Leon Britton and Kemy Agustien looked as strong as usual in the centre. Defensively Swansea were solid, with Angel Rangel, Neil Taylor and Stephen Caulker all injury free for a change and joined captain Ashley Williams in contributing to the clean-sheet.

A bigger plus for Swansea is that Aston Villa weren't actually that bad. Villa didn't back down after Dyer's early goal and kept attacking. They also had the most possession (57%), but a number of misplaced passes didn't help their cause, while they were unable to capitalise on any of their fourteen corners (compared to Swansea's no corners), incurring a fourth consecutive home defeat.

Though it's hard to pick out Swansea's negatives, there were a few. The game saw a few silly tackles, with Caulker, Agustien and Orlandi receiving yellow cards which could have been avoided. The final ball was also questionable at times – the hard work was always done well, but the final cross or shot was scuffed a little too often. It's still a concern that more aren't put away, but games like this will give the confidence needed to remedy this problem.

Kudos to the travelling Jacks who filled Villa Park with hymns, arias and confirmation that Swans will, indeed, tear you apart... again. Nathan Dyer rightly saluted you after his goal and you deserved it.

After this good win, Swansea start the year 11th in the Premier League. All eyes turn to the FA Cup match away against Barnsley on Saturday, before the second chance to get something from Arsenal, on the 15th January.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Swansea WILL NOT be able to deal with the might of Heskey

I hope the title of this blog has done the trick and made you scream "what is he talking about!?" - those who haven't headbutted their computer screens in anger and disbelief will know I am joking.

While Christmas is the busiest time of year for many around the globe, it's not just over-priced gift boxes containing a cheap bar of soap and a Homer Simpson flannel (£15.99? Bargain!) and excessive drinking that will take up the majority of our free time. This year Swansea City FC will essentially be juggling eight games over the festive period, which is a lot of football-watching to cram in!

As it's been a few weeks since I've been regularly blogging (holiday and exams eating up a good chunk of that), I feel a little "recap" and look ahead to the upcoming month is in order.

Let's blitz through this:

Norwich
I was in America for this one and used a 'pay-per-view' television to watch the game on. I wish I hadn't, as Swansea fell apart against fellow promotion successfuls in a game they should have won on paper. 3-1 to Norwich.

Wolves
Again, still in the USA for this one (thankfully it was free on cable this time). Swansea had the chance to hammer Wolves and record a nice away win with two early goals, but buckled and ended up allowing Wolves to score two goals in two minutes and share the points. A big waste!

Bolton
Swansea welcomed back Darren Pratley with a 3-1 win over Bolton, in a game that saw Joe Allen, Scott Sinclair and Danny Graham all score. Graham scored an own goal in the second half which seemed to give Bolton something to chase, but thankfully another 'Wolves' wasn't on the cards.

Liverpool
An enjoyable game to watch, but frustrating towards the end when Swansea should have won it - they were the better team on the day.

Man United
Another great game to watch, but Swansea seemed in awe of United in the first half and Rangel's silly mistake cost Swansea a draw and potentially (if Scott Sinclair hadn't boobed up his shot) a win over the champions.


So that's the past out of the way - what does Santa have in his sack for Swans fans?

December will be the busiest month in Swansea City's Premier League calendar, with six games, sandwiched between the Aston Villa game on Sunday and a game on 2nd January against... Aston Villa. It seems Villa will kick off and round up the festive period in Swansea then!

Aston Villa currently sit 8th in the table. Swansea are in 13th, but just two points separate the teams. With Danny Graham settled and the work-rate of the whole team one of the best in the Premier League, not to mention the home advantage, there is no reason why Swansea shouldn't win! Villa fans know this and confidence is apparently low among them. Yes, Michael Vorm will be dealing with one of football's most incredible strikers – Emile Heskey – but the three points are definitely up for grabs! My predication? A simple 1-0 home win to Swansea.

So how many points can we expect from the festive season?

I'm not going to get into score prediction, but roughly, this is how I see the win-draw-losses working out:

Aston Villa (home) - win
Blackburn (away) - win
Fulham (home) - win
Newcastle (away) - lose
Everton (away) - lose
QPR (home) - win
Tottenham (home) - draw
Aston Villa (away) - draw

14 points from 8 games.

Realistically speaking, Swansea, if they can keep up their good form, are looking at about 14 points. They could lose at home to Villa and win away at Newcastle, but around 14 points is what we're looking at achieving. This would set the team up for a great start to 2012.

The most important upcoming games are against the likes of Blackburn and Fulham who are below the club in the table and that's where we want to keep them! Same goes for Everton who are a place above the Swans in the table, so taking points off them is more important than the glamour ties.

This ends a relatively short and vague blog, but I'm going to leave you with this video I found. It pretty much sums up Emile Heskey's prowess on FIFA – not sure why I find it so amusing!

(NB: I didn't produce, edit or upload the video, and own no copyrights to anything - etc, etc, etc)