Monday, 5 March 2012

Wigan 0 - Swansea 2

At the end of my previous blog after the Stoke match I stated that the Wigan game shouldn't be considered a 'must-win' but that the key should be avoiding defeat to avoid the gap starting to close between us and the bottom five.

That said, with Man City at home then a trip to a Fulham team that have just taken Wolves apart, the three points are a huge relief and barring a freak end to the season, ensure that it'll be Premier League football again next season.

Before his departure from Wolves, Mick McCarthy talked about 35 points possibly being enough for safety, and as things stand there are 5 teams struggling for every point so that could well be the safety figure rather than the legendary 40 points.

Overall, this was a hugely impressive performance by Swansea with Sigurdsson again showing, even excluding the two superb finishes, that he is the missing piece of the jigsaw.  He takes pressure off Graham and Sinclair in terms of being another player who can score (and is willing to shoot) but also allowing Allen to play a deeper role.

Sigurdsson had half of all Swansea's attempts at goal (6 out of 12) and all of those 12 Swansea attempts came while he was on the pitch.

Dyer's sending off after an hour (harsh, but I'll be surprised if it gets overturned) and Tate subsequently being brought on for Sigurdsson meant that the game went from being one that Swansea dominated to a game of attack vs. defence.

I was initially surprised by Tate coming on, but presumably Rodgers felt that Wigan would lack the ability to break down a defensively minded unit and so it proved.
Wigan shots in first 60 minutes (left image) and in the rest of the match after Dyer's sending off (right), with only 1 shot on target while having the man advantage
The difference in Swansea play to the usual tactics can also be seen in the overall passing volumes after the sending off:
Passes made from 60 min onwards, Wigan make over 3 times the number of passes as Swansea with Swansea's passing containing far more longer balls than usual
Before the sending off, Dyer's link play with Rangel was a joy to watch, as it has been so often this season.  It's a stat I regularly trot out but yet again Rangel had the most touches of any player, almost 50% higher than anyone else on the pitch (96 with Caldwell next on 66).

Rangel also made the most interceptions with 8, next highest was Figueroa with 5.  To try and avoid constantly gushing about Rangel, I should point out he has had 18 shots in the Premier League this season and is yet to hit the target (11 Off Target, 7 Blocked).

Wigan found it difficult throughout the match to get past Swansea players with only 1 successful take on compared to Swansea's 13:
Another example of Swansea's change in tactics is that only 1 of their 25 attempted take-ons occurred after Dyer's sending off
Credit must also go to Joe Allen who made 4 successful tackles (out of 4 attempts), two more than any other player and consolidates his position as the Swans player who makes the most successful tackles per 90 minutes.  It might not be the most glamorous stat in the world but it's a pretty vital one for how the Swans work.

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using and