A 4-1 victory and a Jonjo Shelvey wonder goal from near the half way line capped a fine afternoon’s football at the Liberty Stadium. Add to that another couple of goals, including an injury time penalty from super striker Wilfried “the Fresh Prince of the Ivory Coast” Bony and it was no wonder the Jackarmy were cheering come the final whistle.
Manager Garry Monk unsurprisingly elected to retain the same side that started the game against Newcastle last weekend, as the Swans sought to gain their first back to back wins of the season. Villa, who came into the game a point behind us in the League and having recorded a 0-0 bore draw in their last outing at home to Southampton were also unchanged.
With the rain pouring down and the pitch sodden, both sides were evenly matched in the opening minutes of the game, but there were plenty of mistakes as the ball fizzed off the wet surface. On 6 minutes, there was a great gesture from the Liberty faithful who stood and applauded former midfielder Ferrie Bodde who has been in a coma. It was pleasing to hear after the final whistle that Ferrie had in fact rallied and actually watched the game back in Holland. Once a Jack, always a Jack!
On 9 minutes, the Swans struck the first blow. Jonjo Shelvey was the creator playing a measured long pass into Wilfried Bony, who had run clear of the Villa defence. Big Wilf took the ball on, steadied himself and slotted past America goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Cue rapturous applause from the home contingent. From my seat, there looked a possibility of offside but none of the Villa defenders appeared to call for it.
However, after the goal the Swans failed to kick on and it was the visitors that had all the momentum, driving forward and hitting a number of crosses into the box. Then with 22 minutes on the clock, Villa were level. Fabian Delph put the industrious Mark Albrighton into space on the right flank and the winger’s cross was smashed into the net from inside the six yard area by Agbonlahor. It was the England international’s first goal since a New Year’s Day win at Sunderland and in fairness was only what the visitors deserved as the equaliser had looked as if it had been coming for a while.
Villa’s revival however, was short lived and less than four minutes later Guzan’s poor clearance fell straight to Jonjo Shelvey on the edge of the centre circle, just inside the Villa half. The Swansea midfielder controlled the ball before volleying a dipping shot back over the American into the top corner of the goal. As we know, Jonjo never does anything “by halves”, but this really was a goal out of the top drawer.
Despite the goal, the Swans continued to huff and puff, with a formation that seemed to be a 4-3-1-2, with Wayne Routledge playing up front with Wilfried Bony. The line-up appeared to be aimed at nullifying Villa’s 5 man midfield, but in truth it left us with a lack of options out wide. Nevertheless, we went into the interval 2-1 up.
After the break, it was again the away side that was the busier as Villa pressed hard yet failed to create any decent chances of note to threaten Michel Vorm’s goal. Shelvey nearly added another to his tally of spectacular goals when his low shot from just outside the area was tipped around the post by Guzan as the Swans pushed forward.
The decisive blow was eventually delivered by Spaniard Pablo Hernandez and it was Shelvey again who was the creator. With 73 minutes of the game gone, the ex-Liverpool man gathered the ball on the right hand side, near the corner flag and hit a deep cross which cleared the Villa defence. Pablo gratefully received the ball in plenty of space, before cutting inside and curling the ball high into the corner of the net. Up to this point, Pablo had been having a mixed afternoon, so the goal will hopefully have done his confidence a world of good.
With the game now won, Monks decided to give young midfielder Jay Fulton his Premier League debut, with Jonathan De Guzman limping off after a heavy challenge. It was great to see the lad given a chance and hopefully it will be his first appearance of many in a Swansea shirt.
As the game petered out and entered 4 minutes of added time, the Swans scored a fourth. Villa defender Nathan Baker was judged to have fouled substitute Marvin Emnes inside the area whilst challenging for a ball in the air. I’m not saying that it wasn’t a penalty but we’ve had better shouts turned down on many an occasion. Anyway, who cares as that’s 2 games in a row now that Emnes has come on and grabbed us a penalty. Despite limited game time, that boy is definitely worth a contract at the end of the season.
Just like last week at Newcastle, Bony took his time with the penalty and totally unflustered, struck the ball home from only a couple of steps. The 2000 travelling Villa fans, who had already been calling for the proverbial taxi for Manager Paul Lambert were not at all happy with this late development and booed their team off the pitch when referee Mark Clattenburg blew the final whistle.
In summary, we won 4-1, but this was a strange game as Villa had more of the possession and worked harder than us. However, it was the Swans that had the extra class when it mattered and the 2 first half goals from Bony and Shelvey were quality, especially Jonjo’s cracker.
I couldn’t really get my head around the formation we played and Wayne Routledge who has been superb in recent weeks didn’t look as comfortable playing up top with Bony. That said, just as was the case at Newcastle last week, some of the luck and rub of the green that has deserted us in recent months was there again today. All hail the Monk!
The teams and player marks (out of 10):
Swansea City: Vorm 6, Rangel 6 (Taylor 6), Davies 6, Amat 7, Williams 8, Britton 6, De Guzman 6 (Fulton 6), Shelvey 8, Hernandez 6, Routledge 6 (Emnes NA), Bony 8. Unused substitutes: Tremmel, Bartley, Dyer, Vazquez.
Swans’ man of the match: Tough one this, as Williams, Shelvey and Bony were all worth a shout. I’m giving it to Jonjo Shelvey for his unbelievable goal and 2 assists.
Scorers: Bony 2, Shelvey, Hernandez
Aston Villa: Guzan 5, Bacuna 5 (Lowton 4), Bertrand 6, Westwood 5, Vlaar 5, Baker 5, El Ahmadi 6 (Holt 5), Delph 6, Agbonlahor 7, Albrighton 7, Weinmann 5 (Robinson 5). Unused substitutes: Clark, Steer, Sylla, Tonev.
Aston Villa man of the match: Nobody stood out, but Albrighton was just about the pick of the bunch.
Possession stats: Swansea 47% Aston Villa 53%.
The match referee: Mark Clattenburg 5. Clatters is, for some strange reason considered one of the top referees in the Premier League and has officiated regularly on the international stage. Not shy when it comes to flashing his cards, he came into this game, having dished out 36 reds and 683 yellows in 211 Premier League matches. He made sure that he kept his average up by despatching another 4 today to Amat, Westwood, Baker and Albrighton. His performance was inconsistent to say the least, since on the one hand he awarded a soft late penalty and allowed a Bony goal that had a hint of offside, then failed to blow his whistle for clear fouls on a number of occasions.
This article was written by the Big Match Pundit