Aston Villa-Swansea City Preview
LONDON (SE) - Aston Villa will be looking for an upturn in fortunes as they travel to the Liberty Stadium to play Swansea City on New Year's Day.
Villa (4-6-10) have had a terrible run of results over Christmas, conceding 15 goals and not scoring any in their most recent three fixtures. A 3-0 defeat to Wigan on Saturday was the latest blow for Paul Lambert's side, and the manger revealed that he is hoping for a better 2013.
"When you're competing with everyone else around you and you get turned over 3-0 at home, then it certainly hurts you, that's for sure," said Lambert. "But you have to try and not let it fester, that's first and foremost. You have to put a stop to it. You have to keep their spirits up. You have to keep them believing and keep going. That's what you have to do.
"They will come in tomorrow and you pick them up again. There's two ways of going - you run with it and get going or roll over. We will keep on fighting. But the last three results have hurt us, no doubt about it because everyone was positive after the Liverpool game. But once three results go against you, there's a negativity. I understand that. I can see that. But I have the belief that Aston Villa will be fine."
Tuesday's hosts Swansea (7-7-6) have had a much better Christmas period, picking up five points from three games. A 2-1 win at Fulham was the latest success for Michael Laudrup's mid-table side, and the manager credited the performance of recalled striker Danny Graham after the game.
"It was great for Danny to score," said Laudrup. "It was very important for us but maybe more important for him. We had to find a solution with Michu not there, and Danny did a great job. He hasn't scored a lot this season but when a striker scores one, they can suddenly score four or five.
"You can't always win the same way. Sometimes you have to learn to use a Plan B or a Plan C. We showed great character."
Aston Villa are without Gabriel Agbonlahor (thigh), Gary Gardner (knee) and Richard Dunne (groin), while Charles N'Zogbia (knee), Darren Bent (hamstring) and Ron Vlaar (calf) are doubtful. Stilyan Petrov remains missing for Villa as he continues his battle against leukaemia.
This fixture last season was the first meeting between the clubs in three decades, but ended as a tame 0-0 draw. Swansea won 2-0 at Villa Park last season, but Lambert's side reversed the scoreline when the two met back in September.
Swansea's summer signing Miguel Michu has 13 goals so far, leaving him just one behind top-scorer Robin van Persie. The Swans have managed just three wins at home in the league this season - the fewest among teams in the top half of the table - while only Reading and Wigan have conceded more goals at home than Laudrup's side (15).
Aston Villa have scored just seven goals away from home this season, with only West Ham managing fewer goals on the road. The Villans have conceded 24 in 10 games on the road - with only Newcastle conceding more. The 15 goals conceded in Villa's last three games have taken their goal difference down to minus-24 - the worst in the Premier League by seven.