Match analysis: Ben Davies

30th September 2013

After a close-fought encounter with Arsenal at the Liberty, Anthony Colangelo reflects on goalscorer Ben Davies' performance via statistical analysis during the 2-1 defeat.

Ben Davies' goalscoring performance in Swansea City's 2-1 defeat to Arsenal was a brilliant display of attacking full-back play.
Michael Laudrup has made his desire clear for his traditional wingers to play more centrally and this has worked well for Davies.
In a game where Swansea's central creative players in Jonjo Shelvey, Jonathan De Guzman and the more defensive-minded Jose Canas had their hands full with Arsenal's midfield, Davies was the shining offensive light launching attack after attack up the left flank.
The Wales left-back caused huge problems for Jack Wilshere and in particular Kieran Gibbs. The former was deployed wide by Arsene Wenger yet Wilshere is naturally a central player meaning he often joined in to his sides midfield play. This left Gibbs exposed and Davies took full advantage.
The picture below shows all of Ben Davies received passes. The arrows indicate where he took possession of the ball and the lines are the destination they came from.
The circled area shows that the majority of his passes received were done so wide and high up the pitch. They were also played in through toward goal, for Davies to charge in an attacking direction.

Compare Davies passes received picture above, to that of Gibbs' below and you can see how the Welshman dominated his opposite number in an attacking sense.
Gibbs receives the majority of his passes within his own defensive half and mostly in a backward direction, not going through toward goals.

Davies also played another vital role for Swansea and that was to link with his teams holding midfielder Jose Canas.  Davies passed the ball to Canas 19 times and Canas returned the favour 18 times. These were the second and third most frequent passing combinations for the game.
Linking defence to midfield is imperative to Swansea's possession-based brand of football and on the night Davies helped out his midfield anchor more than anyone on the pitch.
Fittingly, Davies' performance was rewarded with a goal. Taking the ball high and wide on the wing he cut inside, layed the ball off to Wilfried Bony and continued his run into the box before scoring from the return pass in what was a hugely positive display from the 20-year-old.

Top stats
Swansea attempted 621 passes, more than any other side last weekend.
Arsenal had 42% of possession - the lowest figure they've recorded in the Premier League this season.
The Gunners worked hard to win the ball back off Swansea, making a weekend-high 20 interceptions.