Friday, 19 September 2014

Swansea v Southampton - Preview, predicted lineups, stats, prior form, key players, team news, quotes & analysis



The Match


Swansea come into the match off the back of their first defeat of the season. Prior to a 4-2 reverse at Stamford Bridge we'd been victorious in all our matches thus far (three league wins and one in the Capital One Cup), so it's the first test of the Swans' bouncebackability this season. Monk has spoken this week about the need for the players to manage portions of the game better, especially when under pressure from the opponent, and an in-form Southampton side will offer a thorough examination. With Leon still absent the Swans engine room of Ki, Shelvey & Sigurdsson will again be tasked with running the centre of the park, though they'll likely have a tougher time against a Saints side who, despite losing some key players, still have a formidable midfield.

Southampton seem to have settled well under Ronald Koeman, and are unbeaten in their last four matches since losing at Anfield on the opening day of the season. I can't say I've seen too much of them but reports are good, and they looked very good in their demolition of Newcastle last time out. Impressively, they've only conceded three goals in five games (and only one since opening day), so we may need to be patient in order to break them down. With Arsenal and Spurs away in the next three games following their trip to the Liberty, Koeman will undoubtedly be keen to come back from South Wales with a point, or even three, in tow.

Prior Form (Most recent at top)


Premier LeagueChelsea4-2Swansea
Premier LeagueSwansea3-0WBA
League CupSwansea1-0Rotherham
Premier LeagueSwansea1-0Burnley
Premier LeagueMan Utd1-2Swansea




Premier LeagueSouthampton4-0Newcastle
Premier LeagueWest Ham1-3Southampton
League CupMillwall0-2Southampton
Premier LeagueSouthampton0-0WBA
Premier LeagueLiverpool2-1Southampton

 

Completely guessed lineups




Team News - Provided by injury guru @BenDinnery


Displaying Premier Injuries.jpgFor Swansea, Jordi Amat will be absent for the home side after a post-match scan confirmed the Spanish defender had damaged lateral ligaments in a challenge moments before halt-time at Stamford Bridge – Frederico Fernandez the man likely to deputise. Wilfried Bony could return to the starting eleven - with Gomis stepping down – the Ivorian arrived back late from international duty last weekend. Marvin Emnes moved closer to full fitness following a knee injury when he completed 90 minutes for the development squad midweek – the Dutchman will be hoping for some minutes from the bench. Leon Britton and Rory Donnelly are still at least a month away.

For Southampton striker Shane Long has recovered from the minor head injury which forced his early withdrawal last weekend but Saturday will come too early for Sam Gallagher (knee) although Lloyd Isgrove is close. Sadio ManĂ© has been granted his work permit but won’t arrive at Southampton until Friday – the player will be assessed but is unlikely to feature - Ronald Koeman expects his new signing to feature midweek. Jay Rodriguez (ACL) is slightly ahead of schedule but the Saints coach refuses to put a timescale on his return.

Thanks as usual to Ben for providing us with up-to-date team news. You can follow him on Twitter @BenDinnery, and you can also find him on Talksport, ESPN & PremierInjuries.com

 

Key Players


A new feature in the preview this year, I'll be using statistical radars to show two of the key attacking threats on display

This week we've got Wilfried Bony vs Graziano Pelle. First up are radars using stats from last season.

 

Wilfried Bony vs Graziano Pelle (2013/14)

 




As you can see Pelle enjoyed a spiffing season in front of goal, though he was playing in the particularly goal-happy Dutch league. That, the same as Bony the prior year, earned him a move to the Premier League, and as the next radars (for 2014/15) show, he's started life on the south coast very well.

Wilfried Bony vs Graziano Pelle (2014/15)



Pelle has scored three goals to Bony's none so far this season, so in terms of scoring contribution obviously Pelle is in front for now. Whether that's going to be the same come the end of the season remains to be seen. Personally I'm amazed Wilf hasn't scored before this weekend's matchup, so I firmly expect that the next time I go to put together a radar for his performances this season, there'll be a big spike next to "Goal conversion" and "Non-Penalty Goals".


Statistics & Trivia


  • Southampton have scored seven goals in their last two games. 
  • Swansea are yet to concede a goal at home this season in all competitions (three games).
  • Southampton have kept a clean sheet in their last 3 matches against Swansea in all competitions.
  • Swansea have seen under 2.5 goals in their last 4 matches against Southampton in all competitions.
  • Swansea City have gone 287 minutes of football without a goal against Southampton.
  • Saints did the double over Swansea last season and are unbeaten in five overall against them (W2 D3). 
  • There have been just five goals scored in the four Barclays Premier League meetings between Southampton and Swansea City. 
  • Swansea are one of only two teams to have won both of their home games in the Premier League this season (alongside Chelsea).
  • Southampton are looking to win three games in a row for only the third time since returning to the Premier League in August 2012. 
  • Graziano Pelle has scored three goals from just six shots on target in the Premier League for Southampton.
  • Nathan Dyer has scored with all three of his shots on target for Swansea this season. 
  • Gylfi Sigurdsson has assisted four goals in four appearances this season.

Straight from the horse's mouth

  

Garry Monk has fond memories of his time spent at Southampton:

"Southampton definitely taught me a lot with the players we had at that time. We had Matt Le Tissier, Jason Dodd, who was the captain, Francis Benali and older pros like Dan Petrescu, Andrei Kanchelskis, Carlton Palmer, David Hirst and Mark Hughes came in. They'd been in and around the game for so long and they were great with me and the younger boys.

"I was in the first-team environment at that point, learning my trade alongside Claus Lundekvam and Dean Richards, and they were really hard on us but fair. Three or four of them were at the club for over ten years and coming up to their testimonial and I ended up going that long here.

"Whether that had an effect I don't know, but I definitely learned loyalty and dedication from those guys. Even when they weren't playing at the end of their careers the dedication to their trade and club was amazing and I probably took that on board."
http://www.fifa.com/world-match-centre/nationalleagues/nationalleague=england-premier-league-2000000000/news/newsid/244/163/0/index.html

Ronald Koeman says it's too early to say whether the Swans and the Saints can maintain their current form:

“It’s so [soon] into the season but what I am happy about is that, after a lot of changes, the team is doing well, the team shows a good spirit, the team shows ambition. We had a great game last Saturday for our fans. This Saturday is a new one and we would like to keep winning and continue winning.

“If you win, you win points and you will be up in the table and we will see where it ends. If we play like our philosophy then normally we will be up in the league, because we have a good team, we have good players. We need time, we know that, but until now I am very happy with the performance of Southampton.

“It’s nice to see how they play [Swansea], because it’s similar to what we like to do and how we like to play. It’s a team who do a very good pressing in the midfield and it’s a team who likes to dominate the opponent. I think it’s similar to what we like to do and how we play. I think that will be very interesting for this Saturday.”
http://www.saintsfc.co.uk/news/article/20140918-ronald-koeman-pre-swansea-city-away-1927067.aspx#JKrtgau2wGVYVi2r.99

Analysis


Last weekend we were playing in a first vs second match, and this weekend we've got ourselves a third vs fourth matchup. I could get used to this! This weekend's game with Southampton is in a different category to any of our league matches so far, as up until now I'd say we've played what amounted to a cup fixture (Man Utd), two matches at home we'd be expected to win (WBA & Burnley), an actual cup fixture we'd be expected to win (Rotherham), and a game we we were expected to lose (Chelsea away).

This is different though. If the Swans have a successful season we'd be looking to finish in a similar kind of position to where Southampton would like to end up in the table, and I think realistically we should consider ourselves - or at the very least we should aim to be - on a par with Southampton. Yes they've had the academy longer and they're ahead of us in terms of infrastructure, but results are what matters and with the players at our disposal there's no reason to be intimidated by the South Coast side.

They've got good players of their own though, granted. Pelle looks a typical Italian goalscorer, while despite the summer clearout they've still got a wealth of riches in midfield. Personally I'm a massive fan of a number of their players - Victor Wanyama is an absolute beast at the base of the midfield while another of their summer acquisitions, Dusan Tadic, is a real baller. Watch out for him. Jack Cork has also played his way into the team after being linked with us this summer, and he'll undoubtedly be keen to impress as he aims to cement his spot in the starting eleven.

A look at Saints' prospective lineup would say they're likely to have pace and quality all over the park. I can't help but wonder though if targeting Clyne and Bertrand may be our best option; while they are both good defenders with bundles of pace I think Sigurdsson may be able to play our wingers in behind them and create problems. That's where we've looked dangerous so far, and you don't fix what aint broken. What's more Wilf has gone three games without a goal - that can't continue and I'm backing him to find the net this weekend.

This is a game which, if we're serious about pushing on up the table, we need to be winning. You win your home games against those around you and the rest takes care of itself, and to be honest from what we've seen from Monk's Swansea so far there's reason to believe we'll target a result from every game we play this season. I'm confident of a home win despite the quality Southampton possess, but I'm firmly aware all my predictions are tinged by my bias and that in reality this is a very close match.

I'll leave you with a stat which should bring a smile to the faces of Swansea fans across the land. No team with more than seven points after four games has ever been relegated from the Premier League.  We've got nine. Safe. Now that relegation worries have been put to bed we can concentrate on the job at hand and get on with beating Southampton. Game bloody on!


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Swansea vs Southampton - #FlashbackFour

Nathan Lewis takes his weekly look back at the last four fixtures versus our upcoming opponents


Swansea v Southampton. A winnable game. That’s what I think every time we play Southampton anyway, but is that true? Let’s take a look at this week’s #FlashbackFour!

10th November 2012 - Premier League

Southampton 1-1 Swansea

For the first time in our #FlashbackFour series, I can say that I was in the stadium for a game I'm writing about! My first Swansea away game, my most vivid memory of this clash was the strength of our away support, who outsang the Southampton fans for large chunks of the game, even when we were 1-0 down. Southampton were the better team throughout the first half, with only a Ben Davies block denying Fonte a goal and Swansea lacking their cutting edge. 

Michu became increasingly frustrated up top, and only stoic defending from Garry Monk (in his 250thappearance) prevented Gaston Ramirez from giving Southampton the lead. Southampton’s heavy pressure finally told as Schneiderlin coolly chested then nodded it in, but it was ex-Saint Nathan Dyer who equalised for Swansea nine minutes later right in front of the away stand, capitalising on a Maya Yoshida mistake.

April 20th 2013 - Premier League

Swansea 0-0 Southampton

This match was deep in post-Cup-win territory. With Luke Moore starting up front, this match was typical of our style towards the end of Laudrup's tenure: possession but no excitement or final ball. The Swans laboured throughout the 90 minutes, but couldn’t find the final ball for Moore to sweep home. With Michu by this point firmly on a downward spiral which would ultimately see him gaining a loan move to Napoli, we were unable to create anything to trouble Southampton, and a very winnable game slipped away from us.

6th October 2013 - Premier League

Southampton 2-0 Swansea

It is easy to forget that, approaching this game, we were looking for a third away win in a row. After a tough start to the season, wins against Crystal Palace and West Brom seemed to have kick-started our season. Unfortunately we were again unable to score against Pochettino’s Southampton, and an early Lallana goal gave them control of the game. From then on, were chasing the game, and despite Michu and Bony having a number of efforts on goal, we couldn’t find a way past Artur Boruc. It was Boruc’s clearance that caused mass confusion in the Swans defence, and Jay Rodriguez volleyed home Southampton’s second to seal all three points.

3rd May 2014 - Premier League

Swansea 0-1 Southampton

It seems, for some reason, we just can’t do well against Southampton. This game, however, was a vast improvement on the game at St. Mary’s. Were it not for a solid performance from the Saints keeper, or Bony failing to finish his chances, the outcome may have been completely different. As it was, a crazy decision by Vorm to come out, and a miskicked clearance by Ash led to Lambert shouldering the ball over the line to steal the three points near the full-time whistle. That goal has to go down as one of the worst pieces of defending we’ve seen at the Liberty, and put a dampener on an encouraging end to the season.

Games Played: 4

Wins: 0

Draws: 2

Losses: 2

Goals scored: 1

Goals Conceded: 4

A strange set of results, really. When it comes to playing Southampton, in my head it has always been a winnable game. They are a side who are at a similar level to us, yet we haven’t been able to beat them so far in the Premiership. Perhaps this Saturday will be different, with Koeman visiting the Liberty for the first time.

The Swans will be looking to regain the form and momentum established by winning our first three games, while Southampton have looked surprisingly impressive considering their summer upheaval. We have looked impressive in attack so far this season, so hopefully Fernandez and Ash can establish a solid partnership which we can use as a platform off which to build attacks. .

My prediction: Swansea 2-1 Southampton

Thanks as usual to Nathan for the latest #FlashbackFour! Follow him on Twitter @NathDavidLewis

Swansea City - Safe from relegation. Statistically.

No team with the Swans' current points total after four games has ever been relegated from the Premier League



Good morning! I think I just turned a slow news day into a day where we've got a good stat to debate. I was looking at a table of the Premier League, and after recently commenting on The JackCast that I thought we were already safe from relegation I wondered whether, statistically, that panned out. So I got in touch with everybody's favourite stats account on Twitter, OptaJoe. Appropriate.

Here's what I tweeted, and Opta's response:


As you can see, no team with more than seven points from their opening four games has ever been relegated from the Premier League. Ever. Are we safe? Personally I think so. Say for example we need thirty-eight points for survival this season (although I actually think it might even be a little lower than that), that leaves us needing another twenty-nine points. From thirty-four games. That means we need to pick up around 0.85 points per game for the rest of the season, which winning one game in three would achieve - and some. 

Obviously, football is a funny old game and stranger things have happened than this kind of trend being broken, but I can't see it. Swansea City safe already? I'd say so.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

SHOCKER! Innocuous Bony comments lead to ridiculous headlines in media

Bony says he's happy and focused on Swansea - clearly the natural thing to do is to write an article with a headline which intimates the opposite!


Ah, the media. Sometimes excellent, sometimes horrific. Depending on which outlets you peruse, then granted, the quality of journalism will vary accordingly, but the thing that always really gets my goat is certain publications' desire to obviously twist a headline as suits them. This one today from the Daily Express is what particularly got my goat, see if you agree:

Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham £19m target Wilfried Bony CONFIRMS interest

http://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/511949/Liverpool-Arsenal-and-Tottenham-19m-target-CONFIRMS-interest

If you clicked the article you'll see they immediately point out that this interest was during the transfer window, and that he was talking in the past tense. Would you have got that from the headline though? I'd say the implication from any headline which says "Footballer CONFIRMS interest" would be that this is something which is ongoing - I know that's reading between the lines but seeing as there's no explanation in the headline that's the only option you've got. Here are Bony's comments, so you can decide whether the headline is fair or not:

"Now it's over. Before we were talking, but now it's over so I have to focus on the team. There were some chances, but nothing concrete. I waited and nothing happened so now I am just focused on the team. My head is okay. I just want to repeat or do better than last season.

"We can see from the games I played that the speculation didn't affect me. I think I have started better than last season. The goals are not coming, but the team is playing well. I'm not affected and the goals will come."

"The goals are not on my mind. It will come. I'm quite prepared for that. The most important thing is that the team is doing well. I'm not affected by the lack of goals. Sometimes a player can score in two or three games, but then he can miss for five games. This is the way football works."
 
http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Wilfried-Bony-focused-Swansea-City-leaving-goals/story-22935668-detail/story.html#ixzz3DaDhxG8d

Perhaps I'm overly cynical but that was my reaction anyway. If I see that headline I assume it's an ongoing issue, and that the comments aren't referring to something which happened/was happening a while ago.


In fairness, reports of these comments by Bony with headlines such as the one seen in the Express are in the minority, and most took the more sensible: "Bony focused on Swansea" line. The problem is though when a paper with weight behind it (such as the Express) posts an article like this it breeds more. Copycat articles have cropped up on sites like "The Sport Review" (link) & Give Me Sport (link), with the latter going as far as to claim that this is reason enough for Arsenal to "resume Bony chase". 

This is, sadly, part and parcel of online media these days. There's a term - "Clickbait" - which indicates an article wants you to click to find out more, as opposed to the days gone by where headlines were normally, in the British media anyway, snappy puns. I'll admit to engaging in this myself - by omitting a player's name, perhaps, and referring to him as "Swansea midfielder" instead, in order that people click to find out what I'm on about. I draw the line though at deliberately wording a headline in a manner which doesn't, in my opinion, represent the content in the article.

Michu: "Leon Britton = Legend"

Spanish forward on loan at Napoli was clearly pleased by Leon's decision to join Twitter



Everybody loves Leon Britton. Everybody. Even if you prefer long ball and smashing people about to tika-taka and clever positioning you have to appreciate what it is that makes Leon Britton special, and I'd argue that the only type of people who don't seem to appreciate his merits are the ones responsible for picking the England national team. I firmly believe that in any other country Leon would have had international recognition by now, but that's a debate for another time.


As for the title of this post, as mentioned Leon has recently taken to Twitter after resisting it's temptations longer than most. This was greeted with delight by the Jack Army, but also by a certain Miguel Perez Cuesta - AKA Michu - who tweeted this to Leon on Saturday!




It's clear what Michu thinks, and I don't think you'll find many Swansea fans - or even football fans - who'd disagree with that. 

Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeon!!!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

FIFA 15 - Swansea's Player Ratings Revealed

We’re just under two weeks away from the best day of a gaming football fan’s year; the release of the latest FIFA game. Josh Kilmister examines the Swansea squad to see what EA Sports thinks of the Swans


If you’ve played FIFA before, you’ll know that every player gets their own individual base rating. This rating is applied to the player throughout the game on all of the game modes, but can be subject to change in the future. So, courtesy of ‘Futhead.com’, here are the FIFA 15 ratings for The Swans, and whether they’ve been upgraded or downgraded from last year’s game.

Goalkeepers:

Lukasz Fabianski - 75 (-1)

Gerhard Tremmel - 73 (No change)

Defenders:

Ashley Williams - 79 (No change)

Angel Rangel - 75 (-1)

Federico Fernandez - 74 (No change)

Jordi Amat - 74 (No change)

Neil Taylor - 72 (No change)

Dwight Tiendalli - 70 (No change)

Alan Tate - 66 (No change)

Ashley ‘Jazz’ Richards - 66 (+1)

Kyle Bartley - 65 (-1)

Curtis Obeng - 60 (No change)

Scott Tancock - 58 (+1)

Stephen Kingsley - 52 (N/A)

Midfielders:

Gylfi Sigurdsson - 77 (+1)

Leon Britton - 75 (-1)

Jonjo Shelvey - 74 (No change)

Ki Sung-Yueng - 74 (No change)

Tom Carroll - 69 (No change)

Jay Fulton - 63 (N/A)

Adam King - 54 (N/A)

Josh Sheehan - 53 (N/A)

Attackers:

Wilfried Bony - 81 (+1)

Bafetimbi Gomis - 78 (-3)

Wayne Routledge - 75 (+1)

Jefferson Montero - 74 (-2)

Nathan Dyer - 74 (-1)

Marvin Emnes - 69 (-1)

Rory Donnelly - 65 (-1)

James Loveridge - 59 (No change)

Just in case these ratings are just random numbers to you and aren’t sure what to think of them, I’ll put it in perspective for you. Lionel Messi is the highest rated player in the game at 93 (recently downgraded from 94), closely followed by Cristiano Ronaldo at 92. Chelsea star Diego Costa sits at a decent 85, while Mario Balotelli is rated at 82.

Bony (Rated at 81) shares his rating with fellow Premier League strikers such as Stevan Jovetic, Samuel Eto’o and former Ivory Coast teammate Didier Drogba. Some will say that 81 is the minimum Bony deserves and perhaps after proving to be such a success in his first Premier League season he’s been incredibly underrated, but again let me put this in perspective. We are one of only eight Premier League teams to have a player that exceeds an 80 rating! Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Man Utd, Man City, Spurs, Everton and us. So we’re up there with the big boys; in virtual terms, anyway!

One thing that I am disappointed by is the downgrading of our new Frenchman Gomis. Bafe made 33 appearances for Lyon last season scoring 14 goals. Surely, that’s not worthy of a three rating downgrade! Come on EA! It’s hardly surprising though, as it was brought to my attention a few days ago that when we signed Pablo Hernandez from Valencia he went from a respectable 81 rated to a 76 rated! Five ratings! Maybe EA just don’t like Wales, or more likely, don’t know where it is. [Given Wales' exclusion from FIFA 13 - which I'm still rocking - I think that's likely! - Ed].

So with FIFA 15 released on all consoles in Europe on September 25th (23rd in North America), what are you most looking forward to? Will your first port of call be to get The Swans to the Champions League final? Or will you build your squad from the ground up in FIFA Ultimate Team? You may even want to make your virtual self rise up the ranks in the Liberty Stadium until you become the ultimate ‘Jack Bastard’. 

I’ve already got my first few hours of gaming planned out!

Thanks as usual to Josh for this piece - you can follow him on Twitter @JoshKilmister To take a closer look at any in-game stats of this season’s Swans, you can find them at http://www.futhead.com/15/players/all/all/all/5/48/all/all/all/all/rating/table/

Amat out for 6 weeks - Fernandez to start Saturday?

Spaniard's knee scan showed ligament damage which will keep him out for six weeks - surely Federico Fernandez will now get his first start?



This morning I wrote about the likelihood Federico Fernandez would start this weekend against Southampton (link), given Amat leaving Stamford Bridge in a knee brace. Sadly, scans have now confirmed that Amat has suffered ligament damage and that he'll be absent for around six weeks, which almost definitely means Federico Fernandez will start on Saturday. Assuming Kyle Bartley doesn't set the world alight in training this week, anyway...

Here's the statement on the official site:
Swansea City defender Jordi Amat has been ruled out for six weeks after suffering a strained lateral ligament. The Spaniard sustained the injury during the 4-2 defeat to Chelsea last weekend, with Amat replaced at half-time by Federico Fernandez. 
Amat underwent a scan on Sunday before seeing a consultant the following day, with the results confirming he will be ruled out until the end of October.
It is disappointing news for the 22-year-old centre-back, who has started all four of the club’s matches in the Barclays Premier League so far.

www.swanseacity.net/news/article/amat-injury-1918152.aspx

It's sad news for Amat as he's looked impressive so far this campaign, and he'll no doubt be gutted to miss out given he'd seemed to have cemented his spot alongside Ashley Williams - for now at least. It now seems, however, that his Argentinian teammate will come into the fold, and he'll be keen to impress given the baptism of fire a Diego Costa-inspired Chelsea delivered last weekend.

I'm sure every Swansea fan is with me in wishing Jordi Amat a speedy recovery. Hopefully he's fit and fighting Fernandez for a place in the team sooner rather than later.