Two sides with two very different stories in 2011 will meet at Villa Park on Monday as a faltering Aston Villa side welcome a Swansea City outfit who have enjoyed a fairy tale league campaign so far this season.
Newly promoted Swansea City have certainly been one of the success stories of this season’s premier league with a respectable twenty points on the board at the midway stage in the competition.
Brendan Rogers and his charges have earned plaudits from the footballing word for their style of play and they also boast a strong defence with eight clean sheets so far this season.
Facing them is an Aston Villa side who endured a turbulent 2011 campaign that saw three different managers take over at the helm as well as a dangerous flirtation with the relegation zone.
With Alex Mc Leish now firmly in charge, Villa supporters will be hoping for a positive start to 2012 and they will also be hoping that it will inject some much needed stability and consistency into the London outfit following a rollercoaster year.
Despite losing four of their last five home games, Villa go into Monday’s game on the back of Saturday’s 3-1 away win to Chelsea; they are now sitting in tenth position and pushing towards the top half of the league.
Swansea also approach Monday’s game with confidence following a draw with Tottenham however, Brendan Rogers’ side have yet to win away in the top flight with an away record which has saw them earn just three points and six goals on the road.
This might just be the defining factor for Villa who are steadily gaining momentum and who also lead in the head to head stakes with 14 victories from just 19 meetings between the two sides.
Villa have also won their two previous encounters with Swansea in the Premiership at Villa Park.
Following his man-of-the-match performance against Chelsea last Saturday, Stephen Ireland is an almost certainty to start against Swansea and McLeish will be hoping that the enigmatic Irishman can pull another top class performance out of the bag.
However, Villa may have to do without Captain Stylian Petrov, who was forced to withdraw due to injury in Saturday’s victory against Chelsea.
McLeish could also decide to recall Darren Bent to the starting XI after the Englishman, who has recovered from a thigh injury, came off the bench to score in the 78th minute against Chelsea.
The fit-again Emile Heskey may also be handed a place on the bench for Monday’s game.
Brendan Rogers is expected to make slight changes to the side that came from behind to earn an impressive point at home to Tottenham on Saturday.
On-loan defender Steven Caulker will return, having been ineligible to face parent club Tottenham on Saturday.
Despite Stephen Dobbie and Luke Moore impressing upfront against Spurs, Rogers may opt for Danny Graham and Leon Britton to start.
Angel Rangel, who impressed when he replaced Jazz Richards at half-time on Saturday after Richards endured a torrid first-half at the hands of the lively Gareth Bale,could also be handed a starting berth at right-back.
The game will kick-off in Villa Park at 3pm on Monday. Betfair have Aston Villa at 1.87 to win, while Swansea are at 5.3.