Writer: Mike Field
Date:Thursday September 13 2012
With the international break over, football returns and all eyes are on the visit from Swansea.
Therefore, with kind thanks to KevinE from Vital Swansea City, we have the oppositions perspective.
1) What are you expecting from the season?
It was difficult to know what to expect when yet again we experienced a shuffle amongst the management team. It seems to occur every two years or so at Swansea City, and we all wondered if Michael Laudrup could carry us forward and help us to build on last season's very promising debut season in the Premier League. Expectations and hopes were simply to avoid relegation - anything else will be a bonus.
2) Were there any highlights or lowlights from your pre season?
Lowlights were of course the departures of manager Brendan Rodgers - who took one of our most promising and best midfielders with him - Joe Allen to Liverpool. Highlights however would be the arrival of an excellent replacement - Michael Laudrup who has pulled off some incredible coups - mostly notably Michu for just £2m. Already he's proving to be a regular goalscorer.
3) How do you feel your club did in the transfer window?
Superbly. Michael Laudrup and chairman Huw Jenkins did some excellent business in terms of the quality players they brought in and the bargain prices they paid. We probably could have done with 1 more defender, and a striker to compete with Danny Graham, but you can't have too many complaints when we've brought in the likes of Michu for just £2m, Pablo Hernandez for £5.5m, Jonathan de Guzman on loan and Chico Flores for £2m.
4) Has anybody left who you think has seriously weakened the team?
Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair were the two big departures of the Summer, as they were both regular first team players last season, but thanks to us bringing in adequate replacements - and making a good profit in doing so, their departures haven't weakened the team in the slightest. We have de Guzman and Michu in midfield, while Hernandez should be an excellent replacement for Sinclair.
5) Who is going to be your main dangerman when we play?
At the moment it's all about Michu. Scoring in every match so far, 4 goals in 3 games just demonstrates what a huge bargain he was for us at just £2m. You also can't forget our two in-form wingers either, Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge - who I believe has either scored or made an assist in each of the three games so far.
6) What are your weaknesses, any clues for the game will be appreciated :-)
Weaknesses are currently in defence, as we've lost two first team defenders. Centre back Chico Flores is likely to be replaced by Alan Tate as the Spaniard serves a three-match ban, while left back Neil Taylor is out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury, so 19 year-old Ben Davies or new signing Dwight Tiendalli compete for a place.
7) Will you have anyone out who would otherwise play?
As mentioned above, Neil Taylor and Chico Flores in defence.
Now with a slightly more Claret and Blue angle...
8) Are you surprised to see how Villa struggled last season and do you think we will again this time round?
Not particularly given the fact that you had Alex McLeish as your manager. I could never understand the appointment. However, I expect to see Villa back up in the top half of the table under Paul Lambert. He worked wonders at Norwich City last year, and while it might not happen straight away, given time, he should develop Villa into a tough team to beat.
9) Do you have any thoughts on Paul Lambert?
Paul Lambert did wonders at Norwich, he got them promoted twice from League One to get them back into the Premier League. He created a Norwich side that the Swans simply struggled to cope with last season. They do exactly what a team should against one that play a game that's all about keeping possession. They pile the pressure on, look to limit the space and were effective against us on the counter attack. They were a busy side, who worked hard to win possession. You'll hope he can do the same with his squad at Villa Park.
10) What have you made of our youth promotions last/this season, anybody caught the eye for you?
I can't say I know too much about them or how good they are exactly, but I see Paul Lambert is keen to bring through the young players and give them experience - a bit like Brendan Rodgers. It would be interesting to hear what Villa fans think of Lambert's plans to include quite a few young players in his team this season. He has a lot of confidence in his own ability as a manager who can spot young talent when he sees it, plus to give them the confidence to do well for the club.
11) Who has stood out most from our recent acquisitions for you?
It's a wonder if Lambert has delivered the Summer transfer window activity that the fans wanted to see. More than £20m spent and hardly any Premier League experience amongst all the signings. Despite this, El Ahmadi seems to be the best signing of the Summer.
12) If you could take one of our players, who would it be and why?
As we need a striker to compete with Danny Graham, I'd have to say Darren Bent.
13) Who do you see as our main threat in the game?
It's difficult to say with the amount of changes Lambert has made and the different players he has brought in, but if his Norwich City side last season is anything to go by, it's his hard-working team playing as a unit overall which will be the threat that Swansea may struggle with.
14) Where would you say our current weaknesses are in terms of how you will approach the match?
Possibly the fact that your team as a whole are still adjusting to the new manager etc, but judging from what some of the Villa fans are saying after the draw against Newcastle, you're beginning to show improvement after a slow start to the season and the Swans will have to work hard and continue to be clinical in front of goal if they are to deny you your first win of the season.
15) Finally, a prediction please kind sir...
I'll be surprised if there's not a lot of goals in this one. There has been in every one of our games so far this season, 10 goals in total, and I expect another 3 or 4 on Saturday. I'm hoping we can get a good 2-2 draw and that our changes in defence don't hinder our chances of staying unbeaten.
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Date:Thursday September 13 2012
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