TALKING TACTICS: Bournemouth v Swans
12th March 2016
Ahead of today's game against Premier League newboys Bournemouth, we have teamed up with football stats experts WhoScored.com to preview the Premier League encounter.
A 1-0 win over Norwich last weekend pulled the Swans nine points clear of the relegation zone, with the club now victorious in four of their last eight league games.
Francesco Guidolin was confirmed as Swansea's head coach prior to the 1-0 win over Watford and since then, the side have been beaten just twice.
While health problems mean he hasn't been present on the bench of late, his managerial influence is evidently having a positive effect on the squad.
However, he needs his players to step up once more against Bournemouth, who they will leapfrog in the table with victory on the south coast.
With Ashley Williams skippering the side, the centre-back is one who won't allow his team-mates' performances levels to drop.
Williams has gained a better WhoScored.com rating (7.24) than any other Swansea player this season.
The Wales international is one of only four outfield players to play every Premier League minute this term (2,610) and has once again churned out a number of solid showings across the season. Having played a key role in wins over Arsenal and Norwich, Williams will be keen to help Swansea to three consecutive league victories for the first time this season.
Given only a handful of teams have scored fewer home goals than Bournemouth this term (17) it increases the possibility of Swansea shutting out the Cherries this weekend.
With Williams marshaling the backline, the Swans stand a much better chance of keeping a clean sheet, with a positive result certainly possible if the 31-year-old performs to the standard expected of him.
Only Crystal Palace (14) and Aston Villa (10) have gained fewer points on home turf than Bournemouth (16) this season, with the Cherries securing just four league wins at the Vitality Stadium.
Given Williams' consistency at the heart of the defence, it's possible Swansea will prolong Bournemouth's home woes on Saturday.
It's not just in defence where Williams will be crucial. The defender's two league goals this season have won Swansea four points, so at both ends of the pitch, he has had an important role to play.
Defending the Swans goal is the priority, however, and it's expected that Williams will be kept busy on Saturday.
January arrival Benik Afobe has quickly endeared himself to Bournemouth's fans having bagged four goals in his opening nine Premier League appearances for the Cherries - only Callum Wilson (5) has scored more of all players for Eddie Howe this season.
His clever movement in the final third means he is a handful for any defence on his day and Saturday is expected to be no different. Williams must be on top of his game if Swansea are to continue their good form in Bournemouth, with the Welsh side unbeaten in their last three visits to the south coast, winning two.
A strong showing from their captain would raise the possibility of extending that run to four games.
*WhoScored.com is a unique website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Provided with unique stats, they compile and create comprehensive analysis on the major European divisions, including live match stats and player ratings. You can follow @WhoScored and their editorial assistant Ben McAleer on Twitter.
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