New Year’s Day at the Liberty Stadium sees Michael Laudrup’s Swansea City entertain relegation-threatened Aston Villa, who have endured possibly the worst Christmas in Premier League history.
After a slow start to life under Paul Lambert, Villa had started to put together an impressive series of results with big wins over Norwich and Liverpool coming within a matter of a few days of each other, but the last week has ushered all positivity well and truly out of the Villa Park doors.
Having beaten Liverpool 3-1 at Anfield on December 15th, just seven days later, the Villans were trounced 8-0 away to Chelsea and were very lucky not to become the first side to concede double figures in the Premier League era.
Surely things could not get any worse for the Midlands side? Wrong. On Boxing Day they lost 4-0 to a Gareth Bale-inspired Tottenham and two days later, fans booed their players off the pitch following a 3-0 defeat to Wigan.
Despite the goals conceded to Chelsea, it is the loss to fellow strugglers Wigan that will hurt Villa players and supporters most as they were totally outclassed by a side who went into the game three points behind them.
It’s hard to know whether another game coming just three days later is what Villa need, but that’s exactly what they have got and it comes against Swansea, who are enjoying a strong second season in the Premier League and continue to impress with their attractive passing style.
The bookies at bwin appear to be just as pessimistic as Villa fans are likely to be about their chances in Wales, with 9/2 being offered on an away win and 3/1 on the match ending all square.
Swansea, on the other hand, look strong favourites for three points at 57/100 and proved to themselves and the rest of the league that they can cope without leading scorer Michu last time out when they beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage.
The Spaniard is likely to miss out again on Tuesday due to an ankle injury, but goals shouldn’t be an issue in this game as the Swans have only failed to score in two of their nine home games and are against opponents who have conceded an average of almost two goals a game.
It is Villa’s shocking defensive record – 39 goals shipped is the worst tally in the league – which should be the focus of the betting, with a price of 3/25 on Swansea to score at least once highlighting how fragile Lambert’s side are right now.
The recent thrashings that Villa have suffered have also demonstrated just how poor they are in the second half of games, with 11 of the 15 goals conceded in the past three matches coming after the interval.
These goals have taken the total scored against Villa in the second 45 minutes of games to 29 – again the worst record in the division.
Couple this with Swansea scoring 20 of their 29 goals so far this term after the interval and it seems inevitable that at 29/20, the Swans will score more in the second half than the first.
Punters registering with bwin can claim a free £20 bet and placing it on this superb price would bring returns of £49 if successful.
Not only are Aston Villa as leaky as a faulty tap right now, they also have the problem of being the league’s lowest scorers, with just 15 goals from 20 games.
And with their hosts holding the fifth-best defensive stats, the chances are that they will struggle to find the back of the net and bwin are offering 23/20 on the away side failing to score.
Top bet: Swansea to score more in the second half than the first @ 29/20