Could this be the first year since the 2001/2002 season that all three promoted teams avoid immediate relegation back to the Championship?
It would still take a brave man to suggest QPR, Norwich and Swansea will all stay up (although with Wigan already as good as gone, one of them will manage to) but I have been most impressed with play-off winners Swansea, who can maintain their excellent home record on Sunday with a victory over what I consider a desperately poor Aston Villa side.
Right at the top of my list of teams to oppose, I just can’t have Aston Villa at the moment.
One of my best friends is a Villa fan and you’d get more cheer out of Morrissey at the minute and you can understand why – the more you look at them, the more you despair.
Everything about the club screams ‘rut’: from the way chairman Randy Lerner has tightened the purse strings to the appointment of Alex McLeish and right down to the average playing staff, Villa is a club going nowhere.
It has been like way for some time, and there is a chasm between the direction and intent of these two clubs both on and off the pitch.
Whereas Villa are pedestrian and one dimensional, Swansea are progressive and fluent.
The nickname “Swansalona” is obviously stretching the point, but the short, sharp, possession-based game impressive young boss Brendan Rodgers employs at the Liberty Stadium is working wonders and at the odds available – 23/20 for Swansea and 23/10 for both Villa and the draw – I’ll be on the Swans all day long to beat McLeish’s mob.
Swansea’s record at the Liberty has been fantastic for some time. The Swans had the best home record in the Championship last season, winning 15 times and conceding just 11 goals, and the trend has continued this year, posting a 3-2-1 record, keeping four clean sheets and losing only to Manchester United.
That defeat last week was a narrow 1-0 reverse but even against the champions, Swansea were unfortunate not to take something from the game and I don’t see them having trouble against a team who are shaping up to have a bad season on the road.
Villa have yet to win away from home, losing two and drawing four of their six trips. The two defeats against Manchester City and Tottenham can be explained away, but so can the draws against opposition as average as Fulham, Everton, QPR and Sunderland. The explanation is that Villa aren’t any good.
I mentioned last week that statsitcs show that Villa are allowing the opposition more shots, more shots on target and more corners than they themselves are having which puts them in the bottom three for all categories – a recipe for disaster in the long run.
Their anaemic performance at Spurs on Monday saw them register less than 40 per cent possession – that figure could be even worse against Swansea, who boast the third best possession stats in the league.
It all points to a home win, and although I wouldn’t put anyone off the 5/2 Swansea win to nil, as poor Darren Bent is starved of decent service and support, Swansea to win 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 at 27/10 offers essentially the same bet at slightly better odds.
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