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