Saturday, 28 December 2013

Villa 1 - Swans 1 Stats and Chalkboards

This was two points dropped and considering the teams coming next (Man City/Man Utd/Spurs), it'll be some time before we start a match as favourites.

As an indicator of relative playing styles, De Guzman completed 103 passes, Aston Villa 144.  With 73% possession for Swansea, this was another game where having the ball is one thing, doing something with it is something altogether different.
Shots by Minute - Villa Score with their first effort (and only manage 7 the whole match).  Swansea with 17 attempts but only 6 in the second half
Of those 17 attempts, the number that were actually quality chances is far less with 9 of the 17 being blocked.
Shots by Team.  Swansea with plenty of efforts but only a few in decent positions
Villa only completed 57% of their passes and almost a quarter of their passes attempted were characterised in Statszone as 'Long', this compares with 7% of Swansea's.

Long Passes by side, Swansea's mainly horizontal, Villa's going from front to back, bypassing the midfield
The fact that the Chelsea game was only 48 hours prior to this one obviously had a major impact on team selection with only Tremmel, Williams and Shelvey playing the full 90 minutes in both games.

All is by no means rosy at the moment but neither is it a catastrophe, 3 defeats on the bounce against Man C, Man U and Spurs however could see the end of Jan/start Feb give us to 6 pointers against Fulham and West Ham, both of whom are in the relegation zone as things stand but are only 5 points behind.

The Jol school of thought that 'There's at least 3 teams worse than us' would be over complacent but similarly there's enough ability in this squad to still be around the 11th place currently held but there is a feeling that seems to be hanging over everyone that things are not quite right at the moment.

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using Statszone , Whoscored  and Squawka

Friday, 27 December 2013

Chelsea 1 - Swansea 0 Stats and Chalkboards

As Chelsea have shown on several occasions this season, they have the ability to squeeze the life out of a match and although the scoreline suggests a close game, the lack of opportunities Swansea had (especially in the Second Half) suggest this was a mildly encouraging performance with the game against Villa to come rather than a heroic toe-to-toe battle with one of the biggest teams in Europe.
Shots by Minute, Chelsea with pretty regular bouts of pressure until around 55 minutes. Swansea with only 3 attempts in the Second Half and two of those coming in the final few minutes
Starting Bony on the bench after taking him off against Everton suggests (probably rightly) that Laudrup's efforts are focused heavily on the Aston Villa game on Saturday.  It's also a prudent step given Bony's relatively recent return from injury and the lack of striking options given Michu's injury and Alvaro's poor form but does take some of the excitement out of playing a team such as Chelsea as it pretty much says 'we've come for a draw'.  This is the balance any manager has to take, between the balance of being in the entertainment business and the results business.

With regards to Alvaro, I made the point a few months ago that although he's a class player anyway, it probably didn't do Michu's confidence any harm that he scored from his first shot in a competitive game as a Swansea player.  Alvaro's performances haven't been terrible but ultimately as a striker you're pretty much just judged on how many goals you've scored and it's 0 so far for him, although in his defence the only two 90 minutes he's played in the league have been away to Chelsea and Man City (he's played 402 minutes in all competitions this season which is the equivalent of 4.5 full games).

When you consider the striker issues Chelsea have had (no Chelsea striker scoring in an away league game in 2013), it's too early to give up on him yet and label him another Shechter (who himself, more by accident than design was technically the 'most valuable player' for Swansea in the league last season).

The second half in this game saw Swansea with more of the ball and Chelsea looking to protect their lead:
Pass Stats by Half, Swansea's rising and Chelsea's dropping in the Second Half
When you compare what each side did when they had possession in good areas there's a marked difference, Chelsea (in the first half at least) turned good areas into shots where Swansea have the ball in good positions in the Second Half, but not of them were converted into attempts.
Final Third Passing by Half and by Team - Key thing is converting possession in these areas to shots/goals.  Swansea with the ball in a number of good positions in the 2nd half that came to nothing
Possession stats are often derided, but they do at least show that you did have the ball some of the time and the opportunity to do something with it, but 8 attempts overall and only 3 in the Second Half it shows that something is not quite clicking in terms of turning possession into attempts.  Part of it will be teams happy to sit deep and be content to just have 35-40% of the ball but better opportunities e.g., 3 v 3 on the break but the better you are at converting possession, the less willing teams will be to just sit deep.
Swansea shots by half, despite plenty of the ball in the 2nd half, Swansea only with 3 attempts.  Two long range shots and a Bony header which would take something to go in from that distance.
It seems as if its gone beyond a joke now, but again corner taking seemed pretty abysmal and it's got to the stage where you start to question the value of sending central defenders up as it's arguable that our corners are more threatening for us due to having players out of position than they are an opportunity to score.

Corners by team, not great viewing again for Swansea
In terms of positives, it's always great to see Leon play, but I wouldn't be surprised if that means he's not starting against Villa.  With only 48 hours between games it may be that the midfield 3 starting against Villa will be Canas, De Guzman and Pozuelo with Bony up front, which although it may not be the first choice line up is something which could be well worth watching.

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using Statszone , Whoscored  and Squawka

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Everton Preview Stats and Lukaku shot map

If we had to play the same side every week, my first choice would be Fulham as where all teams have their strengths and weaknesses, I'd argue we trump Fulham in most areas.  Similarly if there's one team we'd never have to play it'd be Everton as they are an impressive mixture of talent and a strong work ethic and have gained 10 points from the 4 league games against us in the Premier League without conceding a goal.

Everton have the benefit of not having European football this season and a stable squad.  They are one of 3 teams (along with Cardiff and Chelsea) who have 4 players who have started all 16 league games (as of start of weekend) and have started the fewest different players (17).  Swansea by comparison have started 21 different players and Sunderland the most with 26.

Everton's 4 players are keeper Tim Howard and 3 of the back 4 (only Baines' injury stopping it from being the same defence for all Everton's Premier League games)
Number of Games started by a player by Team (as of start of weekend)
With the extra 10 competitive games the Europa League has brought, along with a number of injuries to players it can be seen that 7 Swansea players have started 11/12 games (Chico has started the most -15 along with being a regular in the Europa League side).

The main threat for Everton comes from Lukaku and as his shot map below show's he's pretty lethal in a central area.
Lukaku's shots so far in the league this season - 8 goals from 37 shots 
but 6 from 11 shots 
in what could be considered 'prime' locations in front of goal
One possible source of comfort is that he hasn't scored in his last 3 league games (although Everton have taken 7 points from those 3 matches).

With Rangel suspended, it'll be interesting to see if Dwight Tiendalli gets another game or if Jazz Richards gets thrown in at the deep end.

I've no idea what to make of this match (I am for some reason though hugely optimistic about the Chelsea game), as good a season as Everton are having, I don't think they're invincible but injury worries mean the Swansea attack could be pretty much anything.  As much as I'd like to see both Michu and Bony start, even if both were fully fit I wouldn't expect Laudrup to start with both against a side like Everton.

For more previews of the match check out The Swansea Way and this on Grantland looking at the change of focus at Everton under Martinez.

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using Statszone , Whoscored  and Squawka

Monday, 16 December 2013

Norwich 1 - Swansea 1 Stats and Chalkboards

With the excitement of the Europa League draw (I'm amazed #stabvest hasn't been trending on Twitter) and the concern around Nathan Dyer's injury, the Norwich game already seems an age ago.

This was another of those, 'just about OK' performances (if I'm being generous) with the main positive being the result, not just for the 1 point it gave us, but arguably more for the extra 2 that we denied Norwich.

Dyer's injury and conceding a goal just before half time were obviously big moments and as the game progressed it certainly felt as if Norwich were the more likely winners even if Bony's late attempt meant we could have taken all 3 points.
Shots by Minute: Swans with only 1 attempt in a 60 minute period in the middle of the game
Overall, Swansea only managed two attempts on goal in the whole match and this was another game where possession was dominated but little done with in.  In Swansea's defence to some extent this is allowed after going ahead so early but is symptomatic of the fairly lethargic pace of recent games.
Shots by team: Only 5 on target for both teams combined
This was another game where crossing was a case of hope rather than expectation (although no Tiendalli to blame this time) with 15 crosses and none being successful.

No Rangel against Everton due to suspension means the possible return of this season's Shechter, Dwight Tiendalli.  After a pretty solid time last year he seems to have forgotten how to play and it's going to take a big turnaround for him to stop being the whipping boy when abuse is handed out.  Lamah seems to be running him a close second which I think is a bit unfair.  I think if he works out where the goal is - always seems to be dragging shots wide I think Lamah could tide us over if Dyer's injury is weeks rather than months.

The other option is to play Taylor at right back where he look comfortable enough in the Olympics, although this could be a risk as even though Everton are far left sided than they used to be (even before Baines' injury) this is still an area they are capable of exploiting.

Hopefully a week without a game will seem like a holiday to the squad and Sunday could see Swansea springing a surprise, especially if it seems Michu and Bony together again.

The Norwich preview has some things that may still be of interest, a look at Shelvey's stats and the winger who got away, Nathan Redmond.

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using Statszone , Whoscored  and Squawka

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Jacks Away: Norwich v Swans Preview (Shelvey and Redmond Stats)

The preview for Norwich-Swansea is now available at Issuu

The document features a look at Jonjo Shelvey's season so far, a look at the shooting stats of a close season target of the Swans in Nathan Redmond as well as Scott from The Swansea Way, providing some match stats and predicted line ups.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Swansea 1 - Hull 1 Match Stats and Chalkboards

I usually try and look for the positives in a match but this was a fairly bland performance but at least we came away from it with a point, even if we did use up all the good luck we were due as a result of the Stoke penalty.

It's hard enough playing at home against a team that are organised and probably happy to take a point, it becomes even harder if you concede an early goal which made Hull even more focused on their defensive duties with no shots for a 40 minute period after scoring.
Hull score early (in 9th min) then happy to concede possession but did well to restrict Swansea to a handful of chances
Shots by team - Only 4 attempts on target (2 each) in whole match
People have been rubbishing % possession as a stat in recent weeks (e.g., Spurs had more of the ball vs. Man City but lost 6-0) but it has its place even if it's not the sole determining factor in who 'deserves' to win a match.

Obviously it's not just as simple as who has the ball most wins, but having the ball at least gives you an opportunity to do something with it, which was pretty much lacking from Swansea last night.  Looking at the pass map by half, it's amazing how little activity was down Pablo/Davies' wing in the first half with hardly anything happening further left than level with the edge of the box.
Passes by half: 1st half passing heavily concentrated in middle of the pitch and in a line level with left hand side of 6 yard box downwards
Despite Swansea having most of the ball it could be argued that Hull did more with it when they had it (similar to the Newcastle game, a side counter attacking may have fewer chances but often better quality due to available space):
Take-ons (attempted dribble past opponent) by team - Dyer with 4 from 11 attempts and Elmohamady with 7 from 9 for Hull although any take-on will be easier if just one person to beat and plenty of surrounding space to work with
As well as not being able to get through a crowded defence, Swansea's crossing was also pretty poor not least at corners. I've said it before and even despite the two own goals from corners in the Sunderland game, I don't rate De Guzman's set piece delivery and would prefer Shelvey taking the corners, as happened with the goal (although his other corners were nothing special either, I think generally he is capable of better delivery than De Guzman).

Crosses by side - plenty of balls in to the box from Swansea but generally little to show for it
Given we have another game on Thursday it was weird to see Michu start this game and also to play the full 90 minutes.  Injuries in the squad meant that weren't any real options late on to replace him (I don't think you could replace Michu with Donnelly when only drawing). For me it would have made more sense to start Michu on the bench with a view to having 30+ minutes today and hour or so on Thursday.

My guess is that Laudrup's looking to have him on the bench on Thursday with a view to only bringing him on if the need arises (i.e, If as well as the St Gallen result not being favourable, neither is the Valencia-Kuban game).  If Michu does start on Thursday then surely that would make it hard for him to also start on Sunday vs. Norwich which would be 3 games in 6 days.  

I've addressed the supposed drop in Michu's performance previously, the main issue being that he's not getting the same quality of chances as last season.
Passes received by Michu/Pozuelo: Michu often coming deep increasing congestion in the middle.  Introduction of Pozuelo (and Routledge) resulted in greater balance with more activity down the left
To say that Hull are 'the sort of team you should beat at home' would be doing them a disservice as their a pretty well organised team although their away form prior to this game was pretty poor (3 points from a Win at Newcastle and 6 defeats from their 7 away games).

As well as they defended, there seemed to be a spark missing from Swansea's play that seems to have been missing for a fair proportion of the season but this time last year, Newcastle were 14th possibly in part to Europa League exertions so 10th at this stage of the season is nothing to be too down about even if the bottom half is close enough that anyone from 10th downwards could easily get dragged in towards the relegation zone.

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using Statszone , Whoscored  and Squawka
Other Posts: Johan Gudmundsson - a player for January?
Michu - Premier League Shooting analysed
Jacks Away - Online Magazine

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Swansea 3 - Newcastle 0 Stats and Analysis

Looking on Twitter this morning there was plenty of 'We were great, Newcastle were crap' which for me is a fairly big exaggeration of how the match played out.

Newcastle, for the first half hour at least looked to sit back and just hit on the break, had Dyer not scored just before half time, I'd argue that Newcastle had the better chances in the first half, with Vorm's save from Remy particularly impressive.
Newcastle stepped the pressure up after Alvaro's substitution, arguably over committed in 2nd half then gave up when 2-0 down 
One of the things that got me worried towards the end of the first half was Vorm's short goal kicks to Williams.  It's a perfectly sensible tactic to get the ball back in play quickly and control possession, but there were a couple of times where Newcastle had 3 players pushed up against the defence and it was just asking for trouble to play out from the back.
Vorm's Passing: Left images shows those to Ash a couple of which were dodgy given extent of Newcastle's pressing 
I thought that Newcastle over-committed in the 2nd half leaving far too much space at the back considering they were only 1 down at the time, that said the weight of Pozuelo's pass to set up Shelvey for the 2nd was absolutely superb.

There were plenty of positives from this, Shelvey again show's he has an eye for goal from distance as well as having 'a good engine' even if he does still have that side of him that has to do something daft in a lot of games.  Given he's already had a warning after the 'Swim Away' incident and Webb apparently told Pardew he didn't see the 'attempted headbutt/forehead nuzzle' there still may be something to come from this (since seen that no further action will be taken), we were also a bit lucky with the handball incident.

Canas looked solid, De Guzman completed 106 of his 112 passes, there was another hour for Pablo and no major weak links anywhere in the team. With Hull and then Norwich next up in the league, the next couple of weeks offer a huge opportunity to put real space between us and the bottom three.  There'll also be a two month break from the Europa League (assuming we qualify) which will enable a run of games without having to change every week, this game was a rarity with all 10 outfield players being the same two games running.

It may be 10,20 or even more years before we have another crack at Europe so I say enjoy while we can, it undoubtedly impacts league performance but even if we got to the Final there's only a possible 9 further fixtures in the New Year so the second half of the season will be a more accurate reflection of the full potential of the squad.

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using Statszone , Whoscored  and Squawka
Other Posts: Johan Gudmundsson - a player for January?
Michu - Premier League Shooting analysed

Monday, 2 December 2013

Man City 3 - Swansea 0 Match Stats

As Laudrup himself said, it's odd to feel relatively pleased after a 3-0 defeat but overall this was an OK performance (especially in the first half) although you get the feeling that even if you could say 'what if' about De Guzman's miss, you could also argue this could have been 5 such were the number of opportunities created by Man City in the 2nd half.
Shots by Minute - Relatively even first half with Man City pulling away from around the hour mark
For a more detailed breakdown of the game I'd recommend The Swansea Way's review.  I know Huw's not too keen on the 'league within a league' talk but Newcastle are a good team against which to measure ourselves, I don't think they were as bad as their early season start suggested but also I don't think they're as good as their recent 4 league wins on the bounce suggests either.

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using Whoscored
Other Posts: Johan Gudmundsson - a player for January?
Michu - Premier League Shooting analysed

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Shooooot! - Finding the balance between possession and attempts

Beyond the scoreline, when assessing a match, the first things looked at are usually possession percentage and shot count. Neither of these will tell the whole story of course as they won't include information on when goals were scored (team in front may be happy to sit deeper, and look to counter attack) and the type of chances - better to have a couple of quality chances than a load of long range efforts.

Talking of long range efforts leads me nicely to the shooting of Andros Townsend, I saw him in the flesh when Swansea visited Spurs earlier this season, he's certainly got pace and ability (as well as maybe the tendency to go down easily) but has this season become the benchmark for 'hit and hope' attempts.

Townsend has racked up the shots this season (has the highest overall so far with 45) and only Luis Suarez has a higher shots per game ratio.  Where Townsend and Suarez differ though is that Suarez has scored 9 goals from 40 shots but Townsend has scored only 1 from 45 shots and that was actually a cross that Soldado dummied which ended up fooling the keeper.
Townsend's only league goal this season from his 45 attempts
As well as undoubtedly being a better finisher, Suarez no doubt is taking shots in better areas (even if he is over optimistic at times).  Looking at Townsend's shot map, is a lesson in wishful thinking.
Premier League Shots in 2013/14 - 45 Efforts with the goal coming from the widest shot as was more of a cross.  Only 5 of the 45 efforts from inside the box.  16 of the 45 were blocked, 14 off target and 15 on target (including the goal)
Part of the reason of course for Townsend's recent elevation to saviour of a nation was his goal for England against Montenegro which in a way is a perfect demonstration of the value of 'having a crack' from distance: if you buy enough tickets, you just might win the raffle.
Townsend's goal for England
This season's activity for Townsend is similar to his behaviour for QPR last season (and a handful of games for Spurs):
Shooting in 2012/13 - Townsend with 2 Goals from 37 attempts but the two coming from relatively good positions
Putting the two seasons together gives a total of 3 goals from 82 shots:
Townsend's 3 goals are a cross/shot, a really well taken chest down/half volley and a lay off he's thumped in from the edge of the box. He's lacking however in goals when cutting inside and shooting (which will be the majority of his activity)
Townsend's ambitious shooting is obviously not the sole reason for Spurs' lack of goals but will arguably play a part in returning possession to the opposition and relieving pressure.  If you don't shoot, you don't score but if you shoot from wildly optimistic locations you won't score too often that way either.

At the other end of the spectrum is someone like Wayne Routledge, who has had just 7 shots from the 10 games he's played in the league so far this season and Nathan Dyer has 15.  This is in part why the interest in Tom Ince who has 36 shots (and 6 goals) in his 13 appearances in the Championship so far this season, although my feeling is that Huw has just thrown Swansea's hat into the ring with regards to Ince on the off chance there are no takers with deep pockets. I'd personally be surprised if we ended up being anywhere near the highest bidder in terms of wages offered given he's out of contract at the end of the season.

When to pass, when to shoot? If the opposition know you pretty much never shoot (as is the case with Routledge), then that's one less thing for the defence to worry about. Similarly shooting on sight isn't going to get you too far either unless you have the finishing skills of Gareth Bale. The next stage is to look at different sides decision making in terms of shooting/chance creation.

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using Statszone , Whoscored  and Squawka
Other Posts: Johan Gudmundsson - a player for January?
Michu - Premier League Shooting analysed
Jacks Away - Online Magazine
Fulham 1 - Swans 2 Stats and Analysis

Monday, 25 November 2013

Fulham 1 - Swans 2 - Stats and Review

This was a controlling display from about 35 minutes onwards that was nearly undone by a mixture of leaving Scott Parker unattended from the corner and the kind of finish I that was surely unintentional as he manage to find an area of the goal not much bigger than the ball to score in.

Swansea rode their luck in the first half hour or so as despite the Swans having the majority of the ball, Fulham had the best two chances with Bent's header and then his shot hitting the post when clean through.

After that Fulham's only effort on goal between the 34th and 85th minute was Parker's cross/shot and the chart below shows how little Fulham offered in terms of attacking threat, backing up their previous form in the league so far this season where prior to Saturday they averaged under 8 shots per game.
Shots by Minute: Swansea with a pretty regular stream of attempts from last 10 minutes of 1st half onwards
Chris Wathan from Wales Online has put a good review of the game together with a focus on Rangel and Davies. Given the form of Man City at home so far this season, it'll be interesting to see how Laudrup sets the team up with possibly Rangel taking on the role as right winger that he finished the Fulham game in (and started there last season against Everton).

Fulham were surprisingly direct with quite a lot played long to Berbatov but to be fair to Fulham it did create some moments of panic, including the long ball headed back by Chico into Bent's path where he then hit the post:
Passes Received by Berbatov, plenty of long balls, with a number of Aerial Duels (see below)
Berbatov had 16 Aerial duels, 7 more than anyone else (Bent with 9)
Shelvey's cameo at the end of the match again showed his huge potential (it seems strange to talk about potential in someone who has been around the Premier League for so long but he's actually 5 months younger than Pozuelo).

If Shelvey was the finished article he'd probably be worth 3 times the £5m we paid for him, he's still making mistakes but could end up being a major player in the Swans future over the next decade.
Shelvey's goal, green star is his take-on past a defender. The ability to go past players within tight spaces around the edge of the box is an invaluable ability and Shelvey seems more two-footed than most players which is a big advantage
I was expecting Britton and Shelvey to start this one and Canas and De Guzman to play vs. Valencia, we'll have to wait and see if Laudrup does swap the midfield two or if he goes for something more defensive with a view to taking the 1 point needed to guarantee qualification.

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using Statszone , Whoscored  and Squawka
Other Posts: Johan Gudmundsson - a player for January?
Michu - Premier League Shooting analysed
Jacks Away - Online Magazine

Friday, 22 November 2013

Jacks Away - Fulham Preview Magazine

With the help of Scott from The Swansea Way I've put together a range of stats ahead of the Fulham game in the form of an online magazine.
View on Issuu
Fulham over their last 3 league games have been pretty terrible, although all 3 defeats have come against teams in the top 8 (Southampton, Man Utd and Fulham).  Nobody knows though what kind of Fulham (and in particular Berbatov) is going to turn up tomorrow.

Must-win is a massively overused phrase for me, Stoke was a must-win according to some, we didn't win and the world's still turning.  The Fulham game offers the opportunity to put some distance between us and the bottom 3 but is not the be all and end all.  Saying that, I wouldn't want the attitude of Jol of 'There are at least 3 teams worse than us' as that's basically just 'too good to go down' phrased differently which is a dangerous attitude.

In the guide there's the review of Michu's shooting so far in the league compared to last season, some stats around Bony's performance as well as a stats infographic on some key figures from both teams as well as chalkboards from each teams last 3 games.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Michu - Premier League Seasons Compared

As a Swans fan it's arguably difficult to write a truly objective piece when writing about Michu as he's been a huge part of our recent success.

You obviously can't choose which games you're going to score in (he's scored 4 in 7 games in the Europa league so nothing too wrong there) but with only 2 goals from 10 games so far in the Premier League means some people are questioning whether last season was a case of over-performing.

In this piece, I'll look in more detail at the type of opportunities Michu's had in the league so far this season compared with 2012/13 to show that it's more the type of chances that's impacted the goal return rather than any major drop off in form.

If you just looked at top level stats, they'd suggest a major drop off both in goals per 90 minutes played and shot conversion but no real drop off in shot volume.  Taken at face value that would suggest a big change in performance.
Season Stats: Shot volume at similar level but conversion (and therefore goals) way down
Digging deeper however, it should be noted that 40% (12/30) of Michu's shots this season have been from outside the box, compared to only 25% (28/110) last season with Michu's only league goal from outside the box in either season coming from his first shot as a Swansea player in the game against QPR thanks in part to a fumbling attempt at a save from Rob Green.
Michu 2012/13 - 75% of Shots from inside the box, and most of that in central areas
Michu 2013/14 - Similar shots per game volume but greater proportion outside box and little in the previous 'sweet spot' just to the right hand side of the goal in between 6 yard box and penalty spot
Shot position is hugely important when determining likely success of any effort but misses out on context around a position, a 'bad' position but an open goal is a far better opportunity than a good position with three defenders and a goalkeeper standing in your way.

One way of trying to add a layer of context to any shot is Opta's Clear Cut Chance (CCC) which is defined as where there is a 'reasonable' expectation of a goal.

The concept of a Clear Cut Chance isn't perfect as it's to some extent subjective.  Overall across all Clear Cut Chances, conversion is around 35% (after penalties which are also bundled in with Cleat Cut Chances and have a conversion of around 80% are removed).

Using the Clear Cut Chance metric gives us a rough guide to the quality of chances and looking at that, it can be seen there is a major change in the quality of chances Michu's had in the Premier League so far this season.
When you split attempts by clear/not Clear Cut Chance it's easier to see what may in part be the reason for only 2 goals in the league this season.  The number of Clear Cut Chances per 90 minutes played has dropped dramatically from 0.78 per 90 minutes down to 0.31 and as two thirds of Michu's goals last season came via Clear Cut Chances that's going to have a big impact.

If you look at this video of Michu's goals last season, the goals are a mixture of being in the right place at the right time and those with quick clinical finishes, Michu is able to get a lot of power with relatively little backlift meaning keepers have less time to set themselves.  My favourite bit though is Arsene Wenger furiously trying to undo his jacket after Michu scores his second against Arsenal at the Emirates.

There's also the fact that it's only 10 league games so far this season (Michu missed the game vs. Stoke through injury) and one good game and all the stats are suddenly back on track.

Looking at where Michu scored last season there were a couple of 'purple patches', the start of the season with 4 goals in the first 3 games, and 7 in 7 games midway through the season.  Also I'd argue that Bony's two goals vs. Stoke were exactly the type of goals Michu was scoring in the league last season (I'd also have put my house on him scoring the 1v1 Bony had in that match).
Goals scored by Premier League game 2012/13
Bursts of goals also means it's easy to select a convenient cut-off when the goals stop to suggest a drought e.g., 13 goals in first 18 league games of 2012/13, 5 goals in the last 17 league games that season (or 7 in last 27 if you wanted to go from Reading away last season up to the present date).

As I mentioned at the start it's difficult to be truly objective when you're attached, but I've seen enough of him to believe that the season as a whole was representative of his ability not the goals return from the second half of it or the comparatively low return so far this season.

Repeating the feat of 18 league goals in a season may be a stretch but if him and Bony get 25+ in the league between them I'll be happy.

Although the top level stats in the league may not be great, Michu is still a classy finisher but needs the opportunities which have generally been lacking across the team, so the next question is 'Where have Swansea's Clear Cut Chances gone?'

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using Statszone , Whoscored  and Squawka and EPL Index
Other Posts: Johan Gudmundsson - a player for January?

Friday, 15 November 2013

Player for January? Johan Gudmundsson

With only a few weeks to go before the transfer window re-opens I have been starting to think about potential targets.  Assuming nobody major leaves in January they only real addition I'd like to see is a left footed winger (jury's still out on Lamah).

Also at least 1 and sometimes both of the starting wingers are usually substituted each match so an extra body in this area may be useful if we progress into the knockout stages of the Europa League (which could be anywhere from an extra 2 to 9 games).

Having someone wide who is a left footer could work well across both sides, either playing on the right and being able to cut inside and shoot or playing on the left and then being able to cross more easily with their natural foot.  The way Wayne Routledge beats a man down the left and then crosses with his right foot shows great technique but does mean he has to fully go past the defender to allow himself the space to use his right.

With this in mind it was interesting to read a piece in the Guardian yesterday about some players who could be potential transfer targets who were playing in the internationals over the next few days.  The one that caught my eye was for Johan Berg Gudmundsson which contained the following:

Johann Berg Gudmundsson (23, winger, AZ Alkmaar – Iceland)

One of several Icelandic talents who have recently emerged from Dutch football to form something of a "golden generation" for their country. Just two games short of a maiden World Cup finals participation, the left-footed wide forward – equally effective on either flank – has proved decisive for his country throughout the campaign. In particular his stunning second-half hat-trick against Switzerland unsurprisingly did not go unnoticed. Gudmundsson's contract expires next summer and the January window may represent the final chance of a payday for his title-chasing club side.
Likely fit for: A mid-table Premier League team with a limited budget keen on a versatile impact forward with resale potential.
Transfer value: £2-3m
I'm not saying that description alone should be enough for Huw to get the chequebook out but it certainly at face value at least ticks a lot of boxes.
A quick bit of research (i.e., Youtube and Wikipedia) suggest that previous seasons goals have been fairly rare but he's had a recent rich vein of form.  As always the question is does recent form show a improvement in performance that can be sustained or is it just a blip?
Senior career (league)
National team
2008Iceland U192(1)
2008–2011Iceland U2114(6)
Looking at those stats don't suggest a goal machine (but then neither are Dyer/Routledge/Lamah, Pablo arguably does have goals in him but obviously fitness this season has been an issue.  I was also surprised given Pablo's 'sicknote' reputation that he played in 30 league games last season despite not joining until the end of August).

3 of Gudmundsson's 4 international goals came against Switzerland in September and he's already got 2 goals in 13 league games and 4 goals in 6 Europa League matches this season.

As mentioned above at a superficial level, sounds like a good fit, young, left footed and potentially quite cheap.  That of course may change over the next few days due to the play-off with Croatia, a couple of big performances could end up adding a fair bit to any asking price.

Links to Player Stats:
Squawka Stats

Selection of his goals over last couple of years

Screamer vs. Den Haag from a couple of weeks ago

Monday, 11 November 2013

Swans 3 - Stoke 3 Stats and Chalkboards

I'm usually fairly philosophical about decisions that do and don't go against us but to drop 2 points due to a decision like that one so late on is a monumental kick in the knackers.

Looking at the current league table, I'd say the top 8 now will be the top 8 at the end of the season, even though I think Southampton will slip back a bit I think them and Everton are a step above the rest outside the 'big 6'.  I'd like to think that Swansea could be approaching that bracket next season, but when factoring in the Europa league as well, a mid-table finish (15th or higher) would for me be an OK season provided we make the knockout stages of the Europa League.

With this backdrop of a pretty tight league, 2 points is a big deal and we will have to wait for the end of the season to see whether we are in credit or not when it comes to the outcomes of major balls ups.

The ending of the match obviously dominates the narrative, but 2-0 down at half time and conceding three from Stoke's only 3 attempts on target isn't something to be pleased about.

Stoke under Hughes seems to be a similar beast to that under Pulis as can be seen in part from the kick off at the start of the match and also the restart after Swansea made it 2-2, the jokes about Stoke being a 'rugby' team have been around for a while but it was still interesting to see them basically kicking for touch and position:
'Passes' shortly after kick off and after the 2-2 equaliser
It's a tactic that although not a great spectacle does have some merits, stick the ball deep in the opponents half and then try and box them in and stop them playing out (either that or N'Zonzi had a few quid on time of first throw in).

Any analysis of the game is distorted by the fact that Stoke scored so early meaning they had even less incentive to play further forward and in fact had only 2 shots in the first 74 minutes both of which however were goals:
Stoke with only 3 shots all game until they were 3-2 down with a very late rally to get the equaliser 

Overall, Swansea made 42 crosses (including corners) which is almost double the 23 that Swansea have averaged in the league prior to this match:
Swansea Crosses and Take-ons
Stoke's tactics can be seen in part by where Aerial Duels took place, heavily towards Peter Crouch and heavily concentrated in a single area:
As seen from previous games v. Stoke, there's often little point trying to compete in the air vs. Crouch, it's more important to compete for the knock down which is where Leon comes into his own, often tidying up scrappy passages of play
At half time I'd imagine most people would've given anything to come away from that game with a draw and we could easily be looking at 'Laudrup Crisis' headlines dominating the news over the next couple of weeks during the international break.

Things are far from perfect, but with repeated rotation in the middle combined with a heavy workload for the defence and Routledge/Dyer it's always going to be a pretty stop-start season.  Even for those who didn't play on Thursday, just travelling to Russia and back is going to have an impact on your normal training regime, although I don't want to go to Dutch Ray on it and suddenly trot out the excuse when there's a bad result and be strangely quiet when teams in Europe have good results after midweek fixtures.

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats and Chalkboards: Created using Statszone , Whoscored  and Squawka

Monday, 4 November 2013

Cardiff 1 - Swansea 0 Stats and Chalkboards

This wasn't a particularly great game and it was of course an even worse result.  It's a pretty big but, but without the goal it could be argued that neither side offered much and it would have gone down as a drab draw, Laudrup himself has said that the first half went how he expected (i.e, pretty non-eventful with the hope to nick the game in last half hour by bringing Bony on while still at 0-0).

Swansea started well with 3 shots inside the first 10 minutes but from then on it was a fairly flat performance:
Shots by minute: 4 of the 6 shots on Target (2 from each side) came in the last 10 minutes including Rangel's save
I wasn't surprised that Bony didn't start, Laudrup seems more often than not to err on the side of caution, I was surprised though to see both of De Guzman and Shelvey starting as to me it feels neither one thing or the other.  It's not the attacking mindset of including Bony and it's not the solid defensive/controlling strategy of Britton and Canas.

The only time Britton, De Guzman and Shelvey have all started the same match is the league cup defeat at Birmingham, obviously rotation is needed with the demands of the Europa league to content with but it did feel like there was a lack of understanding at times.

I still think there's an excellent player within Jonjo Shelvey but it'll take some nurturing (doing the 'Swim Away' gesture at the end of a match when you've lost and not played that well just seems foolish).  Looking at the stats the one that was one of the more disappointing ones was that none of the midfield 3 (Britton/Shelvey/De Guzman) attempted a take-on (dribble past an opponent) during the game.

Obviously you wouldn't expect it from Britton but for me it's one of Shelvey's strong points being able to go past players in midfield, which in turn makes space for others.  A lot of the time the ball would be played up to Dyer/Routledge who would be quickly bundled off the ball.

The details of where Cardiff recovered the ball by half show the areas Swansea tended to try to attack in, during the first half there was a lot more towards Routledge on Swansea's left but the second half was full of balls up the middle than didn't stick:
Cardiff's Ball recoveries by half (i.e., where Swansea lost the ball), second half activity concentrated far more in central areas and also more in Swansea's half
Another way of viewing this would be by looking at the forward passes played in each half which shows a marked difference in type of attack (and also success rate):
Swansea forward passes by half, fewer passes in the Second half (also 76% success rate in 1st half compared with 70% in the 2nd)
Michu also came increasingly deep as the match went on (while he was on the field) which then obviously leaves even less of a target further up:
Michu: Passes Received first 30 min (left) and 31-65 min (right), 3 of the 6 passes received in the first 30min came in the first 10 minutes which shows how little influence any striker often has in the Swansea system.
Off the field Cardiff may be a bit of a joke, but in Caulker and Medel they've gone for players who can help them keep things tight, I know they had a few extra weeks compared to Palace but the difference in recruitment strategy was huge.  I think if you put Caulker in any of the teams in the bottom 6 he'd provide a marked improvement in their performance.
Medel's pass activity, 20 more completed passes than any other player.  His 10 ball recoveries was 4 more than any other player (Rangel/Neil Taylor with 6 each)
By end of Thursday night we could be in the knockout stages of the Europa league, but whatever happens the rest of the season, this performance is one that will stay in the memory for some time and not for the right reasons.

Other Posts: Swans Players Shooting by position 

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats and Chalkboards: Created using Statszone , Whoscored  and Squawka