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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Swansea 3 - WBA 1 Stats and Chalkboards

When I heard that Michael Laudrup had decided to solve the conundrum of which two wide men to play by playing all three, I was intrigued to see how it would work out but I don't think anyone could have dreamt a first half as fluent, skilful and dynamic as last night against West Brom.

There's a fine line between a manager tinkering for the sake of it and one who makes slight adjustments to take account of the opposition.  Without wanting to get too carried away, I get the feeling that Laudrup is the perfect combination of romantic and pragmatist.

Showing a chalkboard of Swansea's passing yesterday, even for just the first half would be just a mass of lines and hard to take much from.  The chalkboard below shows the activity up to the scoring of the 2nd goal and shows the intricate passing down the right ultimately creating space down the left from which the goal scoring passes came from.
Passing from start of match up to 2nd Goal
A lot of the play down the right involved Rangel and comparing the passes received by him and Davies, you can see how although Rangel generally received the ball further forward, Davies was involved in more play around the edge of the box often in tandem with the superb Hernandez.
Passes received by Rangel and Davies
All 3 goals had a lot about them with the first two in particular coming from extended periods of passing
Both the first two goals included a range of passes
The third goal was a bit more 'direct', not in the sense of a long ball but that the Swansea players cut through the West Brom midfield with relative ease.
Routledge's 2nd goal
The second half was probably more nerve-wracking to watch than to play in as it was more the fear of losing a 3 goal lead than any real likelihood that it would happen.  Lukaku looked more threatening in the second half but the actual chances West Brom created were minimal (2 attempts in 1st half and 4 in the 2nd).
Overall attempts, no saves for Tremmel compared to the 9 against Liverpool (the most any keeper has made in a PL game this season: via Opta Joe)

Most passes by some distance was Ki, who was again hugely impressive and it will only be a matter of time before he gets his first goal.  Also of note are the passing stats of Michu who although from far fewer passes had a 100% success rate.
It was interesting to see Leon further forward than he is normally and he actually had more successful take-ons than any player (even if it was only 2).

Comparing the passes received by Leon and Ki, you can see that the ones received by Leon are generally just off horizontal with those taken by Ki at more of an angle.  With Leon, I'd say it takes a hell of a lot of work to make it look that easy.  
The kind of way Swansea plays only works if all players are comfortable on the ball (to avoid the opposition aggressively pressing to draw the mistake from the 'bad' players).  Ki in particular has the ability to quickly change pace, drive in to a space and then offload the ball to keep a move going and with both of them there's little dwelling on the ball just for the sake of it.

20 points from 14 games gives a nice buffer but has also raised expectations.  It'd be crazy to expect performances as electric as the first half and as disciplined as the second every match, but it certainly shows what can be achieved with this team.

Twitter: @we_r_pl http://www.twitter.com/we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using Statszone
Chalkboards: Created using Statszone http://fourfourtwo.com/statszone

Monday, 26 November 2012

Swansea 0 - Liverpool 0 Chalkboard review

Despite Liverpool coming into this game as fairly strong favourites (not much better than evens), I got the feeling this was as much due to the 'Liverpool Football Club' brand as much as the relative merits of the two teams.

This was a match up between two relatively even teams, with Liverpool arguably having the better chances but there not being an awful lot in it.
1st Half Attempts
2nd Half Attempts
18 Attempts by Swansea is not bad, but Tremmel was certainly the busier of the two keepers.
In terms of passing, both teams attempted over 500 passes, with the overall stats pretty similar:
Laudrup chose to start Shechter with Ki starting on the bench, I have a feeling that this was due to having a midweek game and Ki coming back from injury, as although it might not be best for Michu I think the current best team involves Britton, Ki and De Guzman with Michu up front.
Michu's passes received by half, one thing that is lost sometimes by playing him further forward is his aerial ability from goal kicks/defensive clearances but naturally will receive the ball in more dangerous positions playing as the main striker
Overall Swansea put in twice as many tackles as Liverpool, with an awful lot of activity around the edge of the Swansea area:
Credit must go again to Ben Davies who made the most tackles with 7 (out of 7 attempts) and won the most aerial duels of any player:
As well as Garry Monk has played over the last couple of weeks it was good to see Chico back, as well as his defensive abilities he also has the willingness to move forward with the ball which helps create opportunities for the midfield:
Pass activity from the Swansea centre backs, Ash's activity mainly horizontal (nothing wrong with that as part of a bigger plan) with Chico making more forward passes and passing from within the opposition half. Chico was Swansea's top passer with 58 completed passes.  Top passers overall were Gerrard (71 passes completed) and Allen (68).
When the fixtures came out, the game against West Brom was arguably seen as the 'easy' one sandwiched between the Liverpool and Arsenal games, I think it'll be a high scoring game with the odd goal in 5 settling it one way or the other.


Twitter: @we_r_pl http://www.twitter.com/we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using Statszone
Chalkboards: Created using Statszone http://fourfourtwo.com/statszone

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Newcastle 1-2 Swansea Chalkboard Review

I'm still in the habit of looking at the Premier league table from Swansea down rather than upwards at the moment but another great result means I have to go through a fair few teams to get to the bottom.

We're still at the level where if we win the opposition must have 'had an off-day' or fielded a weakened team, just because it's a cliché that gets trotted out on a regular basis doesn't mean it's always wrong.  Cissé and Cabaye in particular are two big players for Newcastle (Cissé scoring 13 goals from 39 shots last season and Cabaye coming top at Newcastle for Touches, Assists, Tackles and Interceptions - More details here).

That's far from saying Newcastle would have won this game with those two (and others including Coloccini), but it certainly didn't do Swansea any harm.  Much has been made of Newcastle arguably making the most of their opportunities last season as the chart below hints at, despite being below average in terms of both possession and possession in the final third, they finished an impressive 5th.
PL 2012 - Number of games where team makes more passes than opposition.  Note Swansea in bottom right on their own, dominating possession last season but not final third possession
Overall, despite Newcastle having twice as many attempts on goal as Swansea, they only managed two more on target:
It was a good days work for De Guzman, as well as the goal (seen in the chalkboard below), he also completed the furthest distance of any player in the game (7.02 miles, almost half a mile more than Tioté, the highest Newcastle player according to figures from the Press Association).  There's far more to football than just 'putting a shift in' but with the top 3 in terms of distance: Hernandez was 2nd (6.75), Rangel 3rd (6.64) it's never a bad thing to see.
In terms of the other main stats, a lot of them were topped by Newcastle players. Ben Arfa attempted 13 take-ons (7 successful), the next highest attempted by any player was Hernandez with 4 (0 successful).
Take-ons by Team
From a defensive point of view Tioté, is an impressive player, making 5 out of 5 tackles and also making 9 interceptions, 7 more than any other player:
Pablo Hernandez may not got the pulse racing like Nathan Dyer often does, but he has the ability to consistently both choose the right option and execute it well.  His cross for Michu's goal was a great example of his ability.  I may have mentioned earlier about him failing in all 4 attempted take-ons but he's not that kind of a winger, often happier to bring the ball inside and look for neat interplay rather than just going past an opponent.

Michu's goal was his fourth headed goal of the season in the league and that compares to Swansea only scoring 7 headed goals in the league all of last season with Lita with 2 scoring the most.

Swansea's win sees them 7 points clear of the drop ahead of a mid-table clash with Liverpool, a visit from Champions League chasing West Brom and then a visit to highly talented but unpredictable Arsenal.  As Laudrup himself has said, there are a lot of new Swansea players still bedding in, so there is every hope for even greater things to come.

Twitter: @we_r_pl http://www.twitter.com/we_r_pl

Match Stats: Created using Statszone
Chalkboards: Created using Statszone http://fourfourtwo.com/statszone

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Southampton 1 - Swansea 1

70 minutes in to this game, I had the feeling that this blog was going to be a fairly sombre affair, comparing the performances against Man C, Liverpool and Chelsea with a defeat to Southampton and how we still hadn't scored an away goal since the 5 v QPR.

Nathan Dyer's superb finish however means that everything's far more relaxed and there's still a sizeable gap between Swansea and the bottom 3.

Overall, Southampton had 16 attempts compared to Swansea's 7, the second half in particular belonged to Southampton with 11 attempts:
Shots by side, Swansea with 3 in 1st half and 4 in 2nd
It was a busy day in particular for Ashley Williams, who made 22 clearances in total, twice as many as the next player (Rangel) and more than the entire Southampton team.
Overall, Swansea made 54 defensive clearances to Southampton's 17
Aerial duels were a bit of a mixed bag with Rangel winning 5 of his 8 and Michu 4 of his 7 (I don't have the stats to hand but I'd expect that Michu wins a far greater percentage of aerial duels than Danny Graham).
With regard to take-ons, Swansea were successful with 3 of 13 attempts compared to Southampton who had 6 successful from 13.
Swans Aerial Duels and Take-ons.  Pablo successful with just 1 of 7 attempted take-ons
Overall, not a great performance but a huge result, more for the two points less for Southampton than the one for us.  I think the squad has it in it to finish around 12th-14th but until we're mathematically safe, keeping the bottom three as far away as possible is the main concern.


Twitter: @we_r_pl http://www.twitter.com/we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using Statszone
Chalkboards: Created using Statszone http://fourfourtwo.com/statszone











Friday, 9 November 2012

Southampton - Swansea Betting

Perhaps surprisingly given their current position, Southampton are favourites for the game against Swansea and are best priced 6/4 (William Hill).

Overall best prices for the match result are:

As a bookie needs to make a profit, any set of odds they provide for a given event will have a total probability of over 100% (the corrected odds reduce them slightly to the 'true' odds).  For this event for example, the average book a bookie has is 105.6% but due to differences in opinion, taking the best price gives an almost perfect book where the odds provided could be considered the 'true' likelihood of an event happening.

Generally speaking, a bookie's margin will depend on the total amount bet on an event and the number of possible outcomes.  Where there are numerous outcomes it's easier to price up what look like attractive odds but actually have big margins.

A good example of this is the first goalscorer market where Rickie Lambert is favourite at a best priced at 6/1 and Michu/Graham/Jay Rodriguez all available at 7/1.  At first glance Michu at 7/1 seems like great value, but when you add up the best odds of all quoted players it comes to over 250%.

This is in part due to terrible odds for players who are likely to get little game time e.g., Moore is 8/1, this is largely done to avoid the bookie getting turned over by someone with inside knowledge where a striker unexpectedly starts.  Realistically speaking, for Moore to be first scorer, it's likely that the match would have to be at a scenario where it's 60 or so minutes in and goalless.

Even excluding players who are likely to not start the game, there's still a far bigger mark up than for other markets.  Generally speaking, first/last goalscorer is best left to just sticking a couple of quid on a centre back scoring e.g., Monk at 50/1 given that Chico may not be fit.

As a guide to the competitiveness of markets, below are the overall best book values for a range of bets:
Looking at the available odds, the optimist in me likes a 3-1 Swans win (25/1 Bet Victor) and the slightly more realistic side sees Southampton Half Time / Draw Full Time at 16/1 (Betfred) as good value.  The pessimist in me with memories of our games against Stoke and Villa says Southampton to win by 2+ goals at 13/2 (Ladbrokes) is a good back up.

All odds from Oddschecker as at approx 17:00 Fri 9th Nov.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Swansea 1 - Chelsea 1 Stats and Chalkboards

So often when reviewing matches, the narrative in the media depends on the final scoreline, with last week against Man City, Swansea being 'brave losers' and Man City 'Doing what champions do' in grinding out a 1-0 win.

This week against Chelsea, Swansea again conceded around the hour mark but thanks to Pablo's well taken late equaliser took a point from the game.  In most matches there are tiny margins between success and failure.  Thanks in no small part to the efforts of the crowd, there was a huge change in momentum after the Chelsea goal as Chelsea largely looked to hold what they had.

Swansea/Chelsea Attempts on Goal Before and After Chelsea's goal (61st Minute)
The two Chalkboards show pretty much a reversal in activity before/after the Chelsea goal.

The passing stats show the change after the goal, where before the goals, the figures were almost identical, the final half hour or so saw Swansea's increase to 91% and Chelsea's drop to 82%.
Swansea made 50% more successful passes than Chelsea after the Chelsea goal
These passes from Swansea weren't just spraying it around at the back, going nowhere, there was a plenty of attempts to engineer possession within the opposition penalty area, in particularly by Pablo Hernandez who I think has really started to settle in the side in the last couple of weeks.

As can be seen by his chalkboard of final third passes after the Chelsea goal, there are plenty of similar balls played at a slight diagonal to someone just inside the penalty area.  It won't work every time but when it does, it creates real pressure from the option of the recipient being able to turn and shoot or laying it back to someone on the edge of the area as happened with Pablo's goal.
Final Third Passes made by Hernandez/Swansea after the Chelsea goal, nearly all passes  going towards the area came from Hernandez
With regards to other individual performances, De Guzman made more successful tackles (5) than any player (next highest was Oscar with 3) and was also the most fouled player in the match (5 times) and despite only making one foul was himself booked (although more for the reaction than the foul). This was probably understandable given the number of niggly fouls that Chelsea conceded without receiving bookings which certainly felt unfair, although rational evaluation tends to go out the window when 1 down and time running out.
Tackle activity and Fouls suffered by De Guzman, as well as this activity he also had the most attempts on goal by a Swansea player.
Ki Sung-Yueng had another impressive display making 62 successful passes from 63 attempts, it'd be a fair point to say most of the are lateral rather than forward but like Allen last season, that's what he's there for, to keep the ball moving and to offer an outlet to his team mates.
Passing from Ki, including a perfect 2nd half (41 from 41)
The performances of the last week or so will be devalued to some extent however if there is a weak performance against Southampton next Saturday.  With Norwich and Wigan seemingly getting their act together, it is likely to become quite congested between about 8th down to edge of the relegation places, the hope may be that Southampton and Reading implode leaving just one remaining relegation spot and the game against Southampton offers a chance to put some real distance between us.


Twitter: @we_r_pl http://www.twitter.com/we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using Statszone
Chalkboards: Created using Statszone http://fourfourtwo.com/statszone