Monday, 30 September 2013

Swansea 1 - Arsenal 2 Stats and Chalkboards

This was another of those 'close but no cigar' kind of games against one of the big teams.  With Bony starting on the bench, Laudrup has made it clear that he feels having both him and Michu starting leaves too little support for the midfield when playing against top 6 teams (which is a perfectly reasonable viewpoint).

It might seem strange to pay £12m for a striker to then leave him on the bench but the purchase of Bony (and Shelvey) should enable Swansea to turn possession into wins far more often against lower teams in the league and I'd expect us to get far more points than in previous seasons against the teams that end up in the bottom 5 or 6 places.

The first half (apart from the late chance for Giroud) probably went as well as Laudrup could have hoped for.  It was a pretty cagey opening with the ball mainly in the middle third and both sides having sufficient numbers back that there was little opportunity to create chances.
Shots by Minute: Swans going 40 minutes in 1st half without a shot and neither side with an attempt between the 16th and 38th minute

The second half Arsenal stepped up a gear and created a number of chances aside from the two goals.  Swansea then in turn had a number of attempts of their own but aside from the well worked goal for Davies, pretty much all these attempts were speculative long range efforts.
10 Attempts each, but Arsenal's generally from better areas
Bony ended up with the most attempts for Swansea (3) with Michu not having a single attempt in the 90 minutes.  Michu received the ball as many times in the half an hour after Bony's introduction as he did in the hour before hand (this will be down to Swansea chasing the game as well as his change of position).
Passes received by Michu pre (left) and post (right) Arsenal's second goal
Some of Arsenal's counter attacking highlighted the need for increased midfield presence and the fact that Ozil was relatively quiet shows how well this worked for most of the game, it'd be great to see Swansea go toe-to-toe with the likes of Arsenal even if over the long run keeping it tight is arguably the right solution.

It was good again to see Pozuelo have some impressive touches when he came on.  I think he could have a real influence coming on as a sub on a regular basis with 25-30 minutes to go as his quick feet could make a mockery out of tired defences.

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

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Swans - Arsenal Preview Stats

The latest preview document is now available here which has details of Swansea's and Arsenal's shooting over the last 3 games.

Access the Match Preview Document Here

Monday, 23 September 2013

Crystal Palace 0 - Swansea 2 Match Stats and Chalkboards

Apart from maybe another goal or two, this match was pretty much perfect with an early goal, domination of possession and restricting the opposition to just a few speculative shots.
Palace with only 1 attempt on target and no attempts from within the box
In terms of passing, Swansea as usual had the majority of possession with Palace improving in the second half but the game was all but over a couple of minutes into the second half when Dyer got the second.
Swans as usual with passing % in the high 80's
When looking at the shot count over time I was surprised at how close the figures were at half time as it felt like almost total domination, but despite the possession and good positions Swansea only had 5 shots in the first half.
Despite having plenty of the ball, Swans went over 25 minutes in the first half without a shot. 3 of Palace's 9 efforts coming within a couple of minutes.
Such was Swansea's dominance that at times the game had the air of an exhibition match and the ole's started with at least 20 minutes remaining.  As good as Swansea's play was, it didn't require particularly incredible passing to cut through the middle of Palace who also seemed to struggle stringing more than a couple of passes together.

Shelvey again showed both sides of his game, his surging run was instrumental in setting up the first goal, but in another instance over hit a through ball and then hit himself on the head and on one occasion massively overhit a free kick bypassing everyone by some distance.

It's not the worst thing in the world to say that a player maybe cares too much about his performance and given his age he'll surely become increasingly composed as he gets older.  Given his ability though and a full season with the Swans, it wouldn't surprise me if he ends up in the World Cup squad (if England make it).
Goal Buildups - Michu scoring one and playing a key role in the second
Michu yet again was superb and as mentioned before is wasted in a striker's role especially at Swansea where it's a relatively quiet role (Alvaro had a decent game, apart from his ballooned shot from in front of the goal, but as he only received 18 passes it's far too early to make any overall judgement).  For anyone who doesn't agree with transfer windows, they should be glad they exist otherwise we'd have to endure Michu to ... rumours on a daily basis.

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

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Palace v Swans Preview

After the roller-coaster of Monday against Liverpool and the incredibly impressive performance against Valencia comes a potential banana skin against Palace.  This is one of those games where both teams will have strong hopes of winning, Palace hoping that 3 games in 6 days will take its toll on Swansea and the Swans feeling if they play to their full ability they would hope to win.

The performance against Valencia was obviously helped by the early sending off, but even still it was a match where Swansea dominated with Valencia not having a single shot for a 60 minute period between the 6th and 66th minute and only a late flurry of attempts giving Valencia a small amount of respectability on the shot count.
Swansea with 19 Shots to Valencia's 6 with Valencia only having had 1 shot by the time it was 3-0
Looking at the shot activity for Palace's last 3 games, it can be seen that the game against Man Utd is the only one where they particularly outshot and that was due to the penalty and red card right at the end of the first half, up until that point it was a relatively tight game.

For details of shot activity by minute for both teams over the last 3 matches, I've put a document together here with a bit more detail which shows shots over time as well as chalkboards of all attempts to give an idea of total activity and also shot location which is a rough indicator of chance quality (there's little value in having had 10 attempts if there all from 35 yards).

Confidence is a fragile thing and it only takes one result to give it a knock, much was made though earlier in the season about us arguably being able to put out two good quality full matchday 11s as shown in the piece by 'The Swansea Way'.  Given the improved strength of our squad and this is the kind of game in the middle of a busy period where that will be tested.

Pozuelo looks a huge talent although I expect him to have the role of impact sub this season more than being a regular starter, I think it might be Britton, Shelvey and De Guzman in midfield with Michu up front who seems to never tire and Bony on the bench given he's taken a couple of knocks over the last couple of games.

Last 3 games shot summary: PDF 
Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats and Chalkboards: Created using Statszone and Whoscored

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Swansea 2 - Liverpool 2 Stats and Chalkboards

I think before the game most people felt it would be a big match for Jonjo Shelvey, personally I was hoping for a goal and maybe dreading a red card but his influence on the game was beyond bizarre.

Shelvey was obviously the main talking point but that arguably takes away the focus on what was overall a superb Swansea performance particularly in the second half as the passing stats show.

The second half performance can also be seen by looking at the shot count over time, with Liverpool only managing 1 shot to Swansea's 7 after the equaliser.
Cumulative shots by Minute - Post Liverpool's second shot count was 12:4 to Swansea
There will be a number of reasons for the change post Liverpool's second, the injury to Coutinho (covered in this BBC piece, don't let the fact it's by Robbie Savage put you off.), the introduction of De Guzman for Dyer and also Liverpool looking to protect their lead as they've done in their previous 3 games (more details here in the match preview).

The initial plan from Swansea was to sit deep and let Liverpool do what they like with the ball until they got in to the Swansea half.  It's relatively rare to see this from Swansea at the Liberty but presumably this was done to try and restrict space for Coutinho.

In all the Shelvey madness, the performance of Leon Britton his midfield partner arguably hasn't got the plaudits it deserved.  Leon's problem is that he makes what he does look easy, but being in the right place at the right time to offer support is a great skill.  His passes made/received chalkboard is full of short lateral passes that individually are not spectacular but put together are vital to maintaining possession.
Passes made (left) and received by Leon, so often available as an 'out' ball for a team mate
Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats and Chalkboards: Created using Statszone and Whoscored

Monday, 16 September 2013

Swans v Liverpool Stats Preview

With 15 days since the last league game, it almost feels as if the season is starting again but I'm sure the players (at least those who haven't been on international duty) will have appreciated the rest.

From here onwards Swansea have games Mon-Thur-Sun-Wed-Sat-Thu-Sun giving 7 games over the next 3 weeks.  It'll be an almost inevitable part of this that the Capital One cup game with Birmingham will see a weakened team played which is a shame as that's how we've got to the situation of being able to play the likes of Valencia and also we're already down to the last 32 of the competition without having kicked a ball so it's a competition that shouldn't be dismissed too lightly.

Liverpool arrive at the Liberty on the back of 3 successive 1-0 wins, how much of that is luck and how much good defensive solidity will be revealed as the season goes on.  Ahead of the match I've had a look at shot metrics by minute for both teams in each of their 3 games so far.

Liverpool's game against Villa is a great example of game state (i.e., current score) has on attack level, Villa started the game dropping off Liverpool and looking to counter attack so Liverpool had the early shots. Villa's tactic backfires when Liverpool score and the second half is one way traffic but Liverpool to some extent will have been happy to soak up pressure while they were 1-0 up.
Liverpool Score in 21st Minute and only register 1 shot after this point with Villa having 11 shots in the second half
There's a good piece with more detail on Liverpool's defensive shell at StatsBomb.

The full details of all 3 games for both sides is available in a presentation here.  Obviously not all shots are equal and the next stage will be to look and chance quality to get a better feeling for the 'deserved' outcome of a match.

Also in the presentation is a link to an interactive chart of all goals (scored and conceded) by Swansea so far this season, hovering over any of the goals brings up the goal detail and image of the goal.
Image from Interactive chart - click here to view (Flash required)
For the game tonight it'll be interesting to see if Laudrup is attack minded and plays Michu and Bony or whether he goes for a midfield 3 of Canas,Britton and Shelvey.  Bony on the bench is arguably the pragmatic view to take when playing the team who were top of the league at the start of the weekend but starting him will be a statement that we're looking to win the game not just get to 60 minutes and see how things are panning out.

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

Monday, 2 September 2013

WBA 0 - Swans 2 Stats and Chalkboards

Had this game not given us a good result, I would no doubt have trotted out the stat again that we only got 1 point from the three equivalent fixtures from last season, that it's a marathon not a sprint etc., but for all the analysis that's done around football it's sometimes the intangibles such as momentum and confidence that can also play a big part.

The thought of being bottom of the table going in to a two week break would start to make some people twitchy.  Aston Villa for example had a relatively decent end to the season, but their early season form meant they spent most of the season looking nervously at the table where Swansea having 7 points from the first three games didn't mean survival was already guaranteed, but meant that whenever there was a wobble, things were still comfortable.

It'd be exaggerating things to say we 'should be beating' the likes of West Brom away, but I am hopeful that the line up on Sunday is the one that'll see us racking up the points against teams who will end up in the lower reaches of the table.

A midfield 3 of Canas/Shelvey/Michu is hopefully a line up that has something for everyone, the wall like defensive qualities of Canas, the range of passing of Shelvey and the attacking threat of Michu.

I think the fact that in the majority of games it'll be 2 from Canas/Shelvey/Britton/De Guzman means that although it's sad to see Ki move on (even if it's just on loan for a few months), it's a sensible decision from a financial point of view and will hopefully also see Ki getting regular playing time and coming back an improved player (or possibly a complete wreck depending on how he gets on with Di Canio).

Canas completed the most passes in the game 84 from 90 attempts and also had the most ball recoveries (11).  I think there's still plenty of games where we'll also need Leon, but Canas is first choice for the defensive midfield spot at the moment.
Passing and Ball Recoveries by Canas
Michu is arguably too good to be played as the front man, especially at Swansea where it's usually the quietest role of any player in the Premier League (I think Danny Graham had the fewest touches per minute of any player in the 2011/12 season) and was also part of the reason why Shechter's time at Swansea was largely forgettable.  It'll also mean there's bound to be times when Bony will be unfairly criticised for 'not doing much' but front man for the Swans is arguably one of the most isolated jobs around even if Swansea have become slightly more direct under Laudrup.

Against West Brom, Michu made the most final third passes of any player and also created 7 chances (i.e., played the pass from which someone then has an attempt at goal) which was 4 more than any other player.
Final Third Passing and Chances created by Michu
It was also good to see Pablo getting a goal and an assist, he tends to get a fair bit of stick, but when what he's trying comes off he's a potent weapon, I don't think I've ever seen someone able to nutmeg a player from such a long distance as Pablo can with some of his passing.

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats and Chalkboards: Created using Statszone