Swansea City picked up six points against Arsenal and Norwich City with two performances that would have pleased manager Francesco Guidolin, but followed it up with a 3-2 loss at Bournemouth that left fans once again ruing the team’s inability to keep the opposition from set-pieces.
Guidolin has missed the last three games due to a chest infection, but confirmed he will take his seat on the bench for this game and has been conducting training this week.
The team are now on 33 points, eight clear of the relegation zone, and a win against a doomed Aston Villa seems like it would be enough to ensure Premier League safety.
Villa have lost each of their last five games, and haven’t won a game away from home since beating Bournemouth on the opening day of the season.
As ever, it’s a toss-up between the diamond shape and the more conventional 4-2-3-1.
Against Bournemouth, Alan Curtis and Guidolin went with the latter. The same is likely to occur against Villa because of the exceptional performance Modou Barrow on the right-flank.
If Swansea were to revert to the diamond it would be likely that the Gambian would have to drop to the bench, which would be a shock considering he was the best player on the field last week.
Defence looking to bounce back
Fabianski tried to palm a cross that got a slight touch off Angel Rangel that fell to Max Gradel’s feet as he notched in the opening goal last week. Bournemouth’s second came as Joshua King then beat the Pole at his near post, so it wasn’t a great afternoon for the goalkeeper but he’ll be expected to retain his place against Aston Villa.
Also didn’t have the best game last week, but with Swansea expecting to dominate possession against a weaker side at home, the Spaniard is likely to be preferred to Kyle Naughton.
Some Swansea fans have been calling for Jordi Amat to take his place in recent weeks with the drop in form of the Argentine, but he does have the talent and it would be a shock to see anything other with Guidolin keeping faith with Fernandez.
What more is there to say at this point about Williams? The only way he’ll ever be considered not a starter is if he isn’t fit to play, so the Fernandez-Williams partnership looks set to continue once again. However, the mix of zonal and man-marking at corners is interesting, it leaves the captain marking space around the front post, which some would say is wasting his aerial ability.
Stephen Kingsley surely is pushing Taylor close for a place in the starting eleven at this point, especially with the Welshman’s dip in form recently and the former’s impressive performance at Arsenal. With such a massive game against Aston Villa the managerial duo will likely stick with the more reliable full-back but if Taylor’s form continues to stay low then it shouldn’t take long before fans see the young Scot taking his place.
Plenty of options in midfield
Despite making a mistake in the build-up to Bournemouth’s second goal last week, the Dutchman put in a solid performance and should be given the chance to impress against Aston Villa. There are calls for Leon Britton to return to the starting lineup, and would probably happen if Swansea decide to use the diamond formation. His lack of attacking influence is a big disadvantage though, especially as Swansea are likely to dominate possession.
After a year in SA1, Cork is showing his true colours. In the last few months his form has been exceptional and should be in the running for Swansea’s Player of the Year award, even though that’s not much to boast about this season.
Barrow flourishing in Ayew’s absence
A goal, assist, and news that Andre Ayew will miss the game has all but ensured that Barrow will start another Premier League game, and rightly so. He is exciting, different and all about pace. Completely unlike the Swansea City on show this season, which is why it’s all-the-more important the young Gambian has come to the fore.
With his goal against Bournemouth, Gylfi Sigurdsson has become Swansea’s sole top scorer this season, with nine Premier League goals. The majority of those coming after Jonjo Shelvey left for Newcastle. Playing in the number ten role has certainly been one of the major reasons why the Icelandic international has been one of the in-form players in the league since the turn of the new year.
There’s a chance that Jefferson Montero could take Wayne Routledge’s place in the team after the former returned from illness, but a line-up with both Barrow and Montero is a risky one, and could upset the team’s balance. Routledge looks a good bet to start once more.
One goal in six games probably isn’t the return Alberto Paloschi was hoping for, but it’s not terrible either. Service to him hasn’t been great all while he is trying to embed himself into Swansea and the Premier League. Marvin Emnes may have scored a hat-trick for the Under-21 side today but the Italian will likely lead the line.