After closing out 2011 on a high note with a rampaging 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge that saw Stephen Ireland finally break his claret and blue duck, Villa returned home to kick off 2012 by gifting visiting Swansea two goals, the first from a calamitous Stephen Warnock backpass in the 4th minute, the second from a shanked Brad Guzan clearance (followed by a sterling run from former Villan Wayne Routledge) 2 minutes into the second half.
Villa take a break from the league competition, in which they sit 13th on 23 points, to travel to Bristol this weekend, to take on Bristol Rovers in the third round of the FA Cup. Rovers sit 19th in League Two, and manager Paul Buckle resigned this week. Rovers will also be without starting keeper Scott Bevan, and could be missing leading scorer Matt Harrold. Villa, meanwhile, will be without Carlos Cuellar, who injured a thigh muscle while defending Wayne Routledge's run to set up the second Swansea goal on Monday, and keeper Shay Given, still recovering from the hamstring strain suffered in the defeat to Manchester United. Manager Alex McLeish has suggested that he will field a mostly full-strength side in this match.
On the transfer news front, Villa welcomed fullback Enda Stevens from Shamrock Rovers. Stevens was signed in the Summer, but loaned back to the Irish club for their participation in the Europa League. McLeish also confirmed that the club is in talks to loan in Irish forward Robbie Keane from LA Galaxy for a two-month period. The loan is expected to be either confirmed or dismissed on Monday, January 9th.
Capital Villans will be at the Queen Vic, and 12th and H NE, for the match. We'll see you at 12:30 p.m. EST on Saturday!