Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Stoke 2 - Swansea 0

74% of the ball but nothing to show for it: While Swansea may be the artists, the science of Stoke triumphed in a game that more resembled the staccato of rugby or American Football than a free flowing contest.

The fact that ball possession for the Swans was 74% (from but overall possession (from BBC figures) was 51% suggests that an awful lot of the time, Stoke were technically in possession but not actually with the ball and I’m sure plenty of this time the ball was wrapped in a towel.

People might call it hoofball or anti-football, but it was certainly effective, the Stoke crowd sang ‘We only score from throw-in’s’ with a crazed zeal that makes me think they enjoy being perceived as the proverbial bully on the beach kicking sand in the faces of the wimps.

Stoke came in to the game being the Premier League team with the fewest shots per game (10) with Swansea the second lowest on 12.  Stoke’s approach however means that they might not get many shots but they do create plenty of skirmishes, which when they result in a shot often result in a goal.  This was the case in this game with 2 goals from 2 efforts on target.

The game also pitched the team with the highest number of aerial duels won per game with the team that had won the least and this continued with Stoke winning 71% of the aerial duels, with Walters winning all 4 of his duels.  Graham lost all 4 of his and has only won 18 of 72 (25%) aerial duels this season in the Premier League.

Players with 1 Duel combined in to Other
The substitutions of Dyer and Sinclair were met with cries of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ from the Stoke supporters, presumably because Dyer had looked one of our biggest threats but that is now 15 games Dyer has been substituted in out of 22 starts.

Part of the problem for the wingers was the lack of space on the pitch in general as can be seen from the image below showing the different pitch size markings with the pitch size for this game markedly reduced both in terms of length and width, enabling Stoke to just sit on the edge of the box and watch the ball get played from side to side in front of them.

Pitch markings show how pitch size was reduced with the same approach taken to the width
Credit must be given to Luke Moore who looked lively when he came on, willing to take a more direct approach but I thought given the amount of possession we had it would have it would have made more sense to bring McEachan on for Britton and leave at least one of Dyer/Sinclair on because of their quick footwork in tight spaces.

This is the first time this season that Swansea have lost two premier league games in a row but the important thing to not start getting worried and talking about Wigan as a ‘Must Win’ game.  It offers a huge opportunity but regardless of the next few results people need to hold their nerve.

Twitter: @We_R_PL

Match Stats: Created using and

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Season So Far - Stats

With the Swans having a two week break between games, I've put together some stats around the Premier League performances so far to help to try and fill the gap.

The full pack is available here and contains figures around number of minutes played (only Vorm and Williams have played every single minute), Shots/Tackles/Key Passes per game etc.,

For a lot of the figures I've calculated them per 90 minutes played rather than per game as you might find elsewhere.  The reason for doing this is to be fair to players such as Wayne Routledge who has played in twenty Premier League games but only played the full 90 minutes three times.

One of the key things the figures show is how valuable Gylfi Sigurdsson can be to the team.  It's over a relatively small period (356 minutes played so far), but he is averaging 3.8 key passes per 90 minutes, this compares to 3.1 for Gower and 1.6 for Agustien who are the next highest players.

He also leads the shots figures with 4 per 90 minutes played with the next highest being Sinclair with 3 and Graham with 2.4.

Other areas of interest include Allen winning the most tackles and Rangel with by far the most touches per 90 minutes played as well as how the Swans compare to other PL teams.

Swansea - Season so far Stats

Monday, 13 February 2012

Swans 2 - Norwich 3

They say a good big 'un usually beats a good little 'un and although there's far more to Norwich than a 'They don't like it up 'em' approach there was a definite (controlled) aggression to their play that stifled Swansea for long periods.

With the only change to the Swansea team being McEachran coming in for the injured Allen, it'd be all too easy to lay a lot of blame at his door, one comment on a fans forum I read said having him in the team is like playing with two Leon Brittons.

This can be seen as both a compliment and a criticism, a compliment in that McEachran's passing was up to a similar standard as the South Wales Xavi, but maybe lacked the ability to break up play in the midfield that Allen shows as mentioned previously with regards to Allen's tackling stats.

Both Britton and McEachran had a 96% pass accuracy.  All of Goalkeeper Ruddy's 19 passes were classed as long balls with only 4 successful
It's probably the case that conceding 3 goals in 15 minutes is going to be the focus of any post match inquisitions but the fact that Norwich hit the target with 9 of 16 efforts (56%) which included a couple of top class saves from Vorm suggests that the score could have been worse.

Credit however also has to be paid to the Norwich defence who made almost twice as many clearances as Swansea (47 compared with 24) and also blocked 6 of Swansea's shots (with a seventh being blocked by Lita).

I don't think that we've been found out or that Norwich have our number but they have a level of consistency of effort that is to be admired which includes the double over both Swansea and QPR contributing 12 of their 35 points.

In terms of positives for Swansea, another 2 goals for Danny Graham brings his total in the league to 10 making him the (joint) seventh highest scorer in the league.  If he keeps the same ratio up he'll finish with 15+ goals this season which will be a superb achievement.

For more analysis on the game check out Zonal Marking and Holtamania

Twitter: @We_R_PL

Match Stats: Created using and

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

West Brom 1 - Swansea 2 Chalkboard Review

Thirty points by early Feb is a fantastic achievement and although you can now get 28/1 for Swansea being relegated, the job’s not fully done yet.  Luckily in Rodgers I think we have someone who deals with both victory and defeat in a measured manner and will continue to get the best out of the squad.

With an unchanged team from the Chelsea game, Sigurdsson’s arrival has provided the missing piece of the jigsaw and I’d argue that the starting line-up picks itself.  That’s not a criticism on the likes of Routledge, Agustien, Gower, Monk and Lita who have all at various points provided important contributions, but the current balance feels spot on.

In the three league games he’s started so far, Sigurdsson has had the most shots of any Swansea player (12) with the next highest being Danny Graham with 7, despite West Brom being the first league game he’s completed.

This allows Joe Allen to play deeper which adds the benefit of Allen’s tackling ability which is something that may have been previously overlooked given his other talents, although this was picked up by Zonal Marking (and others) with regards to the second half of the Arsenal game after the introduction of Sigurdsson.

Overall, Allen made 8 of Swansea’s 17 successful ground tackles with the next highest being Williams/Caulker with 2 each.

Allen made 8 Successful tackles, of which 7 were in the first half.
As mentioned in last weeks analysis of the Chelsea game, it’s not often someone is more involved than Angel Rangel and he was back in his usual place at top of the list of number of touches per player.  Rangel had 149 touches almost double that of the highest West Brom player (Shorey with 79) and around 50% higher than that of Williams/Caulker.

Top 5 in terms of touches were all Swansea players
There was definitely an element of Swansea riding their luck a bit with Williams’ handball, Odemwingie’s miss and Fortune’s late shot just being kept out by Vorm but when you score a goal as good as Swansea’s second you could argue that you deserve that luck.  Graham’s goal along with Lita’s against Blackburn have arguably been two of the best team goals all season.

An excellent team goal with contributions from all players other than Sinclair/Dyer
Norwich on Saturday offers a fascinating match up with a team that might not have had pundits drooling in the same way as Swansea but have also done a great job (and have two more points as it stands) and took us apart at Carrow Road earlier in the season.

Twitter: @We_R_PL

Chalkboards/Match Stats: Created using

and EPL Index

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Swansea 1 - Chelsea 1 Chalkboard Review

Wherever that four minutes of added-on time came from, it was just enough to enable Chelsea to snatch a draw which on the amount of possession and shots they had they maybe deserved but was cruel on Swansea to say the least.

Chelsea may have been without Drogba, Lampard and Terry but this was still a team filled with expensive players but seemed to lack a cutting edge.

After an impressive first half from Swansea with a superbly executed goal by Scott Sinclair, the second half was arguably the most pressure the Swans have faced at home all season with number of passes falling sharply and the pass completion rate dropping from a impressive 84% in the first half to 73% in the second.

Swans made over 100 less and Chelsea 100 more successful passes the second half than their respective first half totals
The heatmaps of where Chelsea made their passes also shows how much more their possession was in Swansea's half.

70% of Chelsea's passes in the second half were made in the attacking half compared to 53% in the first half
However, as is often said in criticism of the Swans, what's the point of possession if you can't do anything with it.  For all of their dominance of the ball in the second half, Chelsea actually had the same number of shots in the second half (10) that they did in the first.
There seemed a real lack of imagination from Chelsea and it was more a case of lump it in the box than any attempt at trickery around the edge of the area.  An example of this is that Chelsea made 6 crosses in the first half but 24 in the second with little to show for it due to the excellent work of Williams and Caulker.

In terms of touches, it's a rarity for the player with the most touches not be Rangel but in this game it was Bosingwa with 90 with Rangel in second with 82.  A mention should also go to Essien who had 44 touches despite only playing 25 minutes.

For 3 of the top 4 players in terms of touches to be from the Away team is a rare sight at the Liberty
In terms of 'what went wrong' in the second half I don't think there was any great failing on Swansea's behalf but is what happens when a quality, well organised team puts you under pressure.  Vorm for example often had to kick longer, resulting in losing possession more often (38% pass success rate in the second half compared with 83% in the first half).

There were occasions when the mentality was too defensive, one example being a free kick in a relatively attacking position but the ball went backwards fairly rapidly to Vorm only to then be lost as a result, but it's human nature to think safety first when defending a lead against a team who regularly get to the latter stages of the Champions League.

We've now played 4 of the 'Big 6' at home and have lost one by a single goal, won one and drawn two, and these experiences can only help build confidence and belief. 

Twitter: @We_R_PL

Chalkboards/Match Stats: Created using