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 début 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:
Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Lichaj
Holman, El-Ahmadi, Ireland, Bannan
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!