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Mar 19, 2016 at 5.30pm UK at Liberty Stadium
SwanseaSwansea City
Aston Villa
Fernandez (53')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Swansea City vs. Aston Villa

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between Swansea City and Aston Villa at the Liberty Stadium.

Swansea City will attempt to put another nail in basement side Aston Villa's coffin when the two teams meet in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.

Villa remain rooted to the bottom of the division with eight games left, but Swansea have moved eight points clear of the relegation zone courtesy of two victories from their last three league matches.


Francesco Guidolin attempts to go unnoticed during the Premier League game between Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City on February 28, 2016© Getty Images

This weekend will see Swansea boss Francesco Guidolin return to the dugout after missing his team's last three matches through illness. Assistant boss Alan Curtis has managed to lead the Welsh side to two victories during that period, and eight points now separate the Swans from 18th-placed Norwich City.

Swansea's record from 30 league games this season reads - won eight, drawn nine and lost 13. They have only found the back of the net on 30 occasions, which is among the worst records in the division, and it would be fair to say that it has been a very underwhelming campaign. It was vital that did not lead to a relegation fight and while they have been in trouble over the last few weeks, there is now a healthy gap between them and the bottom three.

Their mini-revival started with a 2-1 win at Arsenal at the start of March, before they picked up a three massive points at home to Norwich on March 5. The Welsh side lost 3-2 at Bournemouth last weekend, however, and will be wary of what effect defeat to Villa could have on their confidence ahead of the run-in.

Indeed, Swansea have actually only won three of their last 13 Premier League fixtures on home soil and they have only scored 14 league goals at the Liberty Stadium this term. Garry Monk had been tipped to lead a charge towards Europe at the start of the season, but much has changed since the Welshman was widely lauded for his work.

"We have to play well and we hope to get a good result to take into the last part of the season. But we have to just focus on this game because it won't be easy. I know their situation, and I know how difficult matches like this can be. But I hope to see my team play well, with concentration and intensity," Guidolin said at his pre-match press conference.

It has not quite been the season that the supporters would have had in mind, but it does appear that they will escape what could have been a very damaging relegation. They have tough games against Stoke City and Chelsea to come early next month, but there is enough quality in their squad to secure another season of Premier League football.

Recent form: DLLWWL


Remi Garde wonders WHY during the Premier League game between Aston Villa and Everton on March 1, 2016© Getty Images

In fairness to Villa boss Remi Garde, he is still making all of the right noises as his team continue to drift closer and closer to the Championship. It seems unlikely that the Frenchman will be in charge next season regardless of what happens in the final months, but it is vital that the club give the supporters something to hold on to.

The league table makes grim reading for Villa, who have only won three of their 30 league games this term. A total of 16 points has left them rooted to the bottom and they are now nine points from the safety of 17th position. Escaping the bottom three is actually still achievable, but 20 defeats already this season suggest that it is an almost impossible task.

A 2-0 win over Norwich at the start of February gave the supporters something to cheer, but they have lost their last five in the league and conceded 17 times during that run. They have had a tough set of fixtures against the likes of Liverpool, Everton, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, however, and there were some signs of slight encouragement in their 2-0 home defeat to Spurs last weekend.

It is not as if it gets any easier in terms of opposition, however, as they prepare to face Chelsea and Manchester United in two of their next three after this weekend. Unsurprisingly, Villa also have the worst away record in the league this season - losing 11 of their 15 matches and only collecting six points in the process.

Sporting director Hendrik Almstadt left the club earlier this week and was quickly followed by CEO Tom Fox as the expected changes at Villa Park start to occur. Garde's own future is the subject of scrutiny, but it is vital that Villa focus on matters on the field in the remaining weeks of the season.

Seemingly only a miracle will stop Villa from dropping into the Championship, and it is a sorry state of affairs for a club that has such strong traditions. Victory this weekend, however, could be the start of a recovery. It is unlikely, but football has a funny way of throwing up surprises when they are least expected.

Recent form: WLLLLL

Team News

Modou Barrow in action for Swansea on November 29, 2014© Getty Images

Modou Barrow is expected to shake off a hamstring complaint to start for Swansea once again, although an ankle problem looks set to keep fellow attacker Andre Ayew on the sidelines.

Guidolin's biggest call will come in the final third as he chooses between Bafetimbi Gomis and Alberto Paloschi, with the latter given the nod to start against Bournemouth last time out.

Villa, meanwhile, are expected to have Carlos Sanchez available following a hamstring problem, and Garde also had positive news on Adama Traore and Jack Grealish earlier this week. Neither will feature against Swansea, but both will be available after the international break.

Gabriel Agbonlahor and Libor Kozak, however, will miss out once again, leaving Scott Sinclair and Carles Gil to battle for a spot on the right of the attack. Micah Richards is also expected to return to the back four.

Swansea possible starting lineup:
Fabianski; Rangel, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor; Cork, Fer; Barrow, Sigurdsson, Routledge; Gomis

Villa possible starting lineup:
Guzan; Hutton, Okore, Richards, Cissokho; Gueye, Westwood, Veretout; Ayew, Gestede, Sinclair

Head To Head

Overall, these two clubs have met on 26 occasions. Villa have 15 victories to their name, Swansea eight, while the remaining three clashes have finished with the spoils shared.

Swansea are unbeaten in their last six Premier League fixtures with Villa, however, and have won the last four - including a 2-1 victory at Villa Park earlier this season and a 1-0 success in the corresponding clash last term.

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We say: Swansea 2-0 Villa

Villa have lost 30 of their last 42 away games in the Premier League and it is very difficult to back them in any match at the moment. Swansea have not been too impressive themselves this season, especially at home, but we are backing the Welsh side to make it another miserable afternoon for Garde's team.

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Jack Grealish of Aston Villa looks on during a warm- up prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Stoke City at Villa Park on October 3, 2015
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