Date: 1st January 2013 at 9:24pm
Written by:

Swansea Let Villa Off The Hook In 2-2 Draw

Swansea City missed a host of early chances to drop two points against a struggling Aston Villa.

A game of two halves, the hosts could, and should have put the game to bed after just 15 minutes, but Michu hit the post, Routledge should have got a brace and Graham too should have found the target as Aston Villa`s youth and inexperience shone through.

Michael Laudrup`s side were able to do what others have to Villa in recent weeks, carve them open as if they weren`t there and they did that brilliantly in the opening 45 minutes. It looked like Lambert and his players were going to have another miserable afternoon, leaking more goals to add to the 15 in the last 3 games without reply.

Wayne Routledge should have scored before his opener on 9 minutes with a carbon copy of the move that created his goal. The winger was sent through on goal but his rather poor shot was aimed straight at Guzan, but he wasn`t going to fail at the second time of asking. Through on goal moments later, Routledge put the ball past the visiting goalkeeper this time, and judging from the early dominance, it looked like it could be business as usual for Villa, but we let them off the hook of what should have been another game to forget.

When Laudrup was boosted with the return of top goalscorer Michu, the Swans looked good for a second successive win, though some fans, including myself, spoke of caution ahead of the game despite Villa being in freefall recently, as the Swans can be vulnerable at times, not to mention our lack of quality against the sides in the bottom half.

Michu showed an excellent, individual piece of skill and class to create a great chance to double the lead. A superb drag-back to get the ball into his left foot, but his decent shot was palmed onto the post by the goalkeeper, and Hernandez`s volley fell wide.

After just 11 minutes, Villa should have been out of sight and the Swans fans in party mode, but Danny Graham was the next man to miss a glorious chance in front of goal after Michu hit the post having through on goal. The home side made their way through their opponents half with ease, not to mention how they were able to get in behind the defence time and time again, and as a result, another chance was created. Hernandez pulled a ball back across goal and Graham should have got his second goal in as many goals but his shot went wide of the target from just 8 yards.

Meanwhile, apart from a straightforward save for Vorm early on, he was mainly a spectator as Villa could barely hold the ball to get into the final third.

Paul Lambert has had success at the Liberty Stadium with Norwich City as he was able to get his teams to push up and put pressure on the Swans high up the pitch, but there was no chance of them doing that today with such a young team that`s lacking confidence. Instead, they sat back, invited the Swans to attack and they did, but a lack of a cutting edge meant they were still only a goal behind.

That lack of cutting edge cost them, as Villa got a goal and it couldn`t have come at a better time, just a minute before half time – just in time to get their tails up for a very different second period.

It was their first real chance of the game and it was a simple goal, as Swansea`s concentration levels dropped. Benteke put a ball through that Williams failed to cut out, and Weimann finished well beyond Michel Vorm.

It was harsh punishment for the Swans but that`s what happens in the Premier League. They had 4 or 5 chances, but they were all clear-cut and at least 3, if not 4 should have resulted in goals. Villa, as they poor as they had been, took their 1 opportunity which completely changed the second half.

It proved how much an equalising goal can shift the momentum, raise their belief and confidence levels as the Swans struggled to create clear chances like they did in the opening 25 minutes.

Aston Villa battled well, and they`ll be encouraged by that. They contained the Swans whilst probably thinking that a win wasn`t out of their sights if they could create 1 or 2 chances. They didn`t really, as Vorm again didn`t have a good save to make.

The Swans weren`t any better though, set pieces have been a problem for them this season, both defensively and offensively, and they showed no improvement today. Both Jonathan de Guzman and substitute Ki Sung-Yeung struggled to get the ball over the first man, whether it be from a free-kick or even a corner.

Michu had Swansea`s best chance to re-take the lead on the hour mark, as Guzan did well to keep out his header, Benteke was able to clear before anyone could finish off from the rebound.

Aston Villa had their best chance to go ahead in the game, but the Swansea defence recovered well to block Benteke`s bicycle kick, and Weimann was unable to finish at the second attempt. With the game at 1-1, it was anyone`s for the taking as the home side lacked that forward moment and pressure on the opposition`s defence. It was lacking, and they made it easy for them to stay level throughout the second half.

Laudrup started to make changes as Dyer replaced Routledge four minutes after Ki came on for de Guzman.

With 15 minutes to go, the Swans finally started to play some decent football again and got the ball into the key wide areas, but Villa defended in numbers and crowded them out inside the penalty area.

With 6 minutes to go, the Swans shoot themselves in the shoot and concede a very poor penalty, but this was after they felt they should have won in a handball incident. Instead of what looked like a certain spot kick following a handball inside the box, the referee only gave a free-kick. Villa got theirs late on when after clearing Benteke`s header off the line, Dyer then looked to win the ball but a clumsy challenge saw him bring down Weimann. Vorm went the wrong way as, of course, Benteke netted from the spot to put Villa surprisingly in the lead.

As some frustrated fans left the stadium following the goal, others saw the Swans grab an equaliser and almost a winner in a thrilling final few moments. Danny Graham got the vital goal at the second attempt after a scramble in the box. It could have been 3-2 in the final minute, but a shot is blocked before Agustien`s blasted effort goes way off target.

After the game, Laudrup summed the game up well, as it was one they should have won, but could have lost. He, and the rest of the home fans were left to wonder how on earth they didn`t win by 3 clear goals, but it was down to not taking their chances when on top, and they couldn`t get back on top and add to the scoresheet.