Talking Tactics | Brentford v Swansea City
Football stats experts WhoScored.com take a look at the form of Swansea City's Matt Grimes, and assess how important a figure the captain can be in Saturday's Championship play-off final.
It was a stunning finish that sent Swansea City to Wembley. With fans back at the Liberty Stadium for the first time in over a year, 3,000 were in attendance to watch Matt Grimes find the top corner in their eventual 2-1 aggregate win over Barnsley. It was a stunning goal, one that will have evoked memories of Leon Britton's fine effort against Nottingham Forest in another play-off semi-final in 2011.
The Swans secured a spot in the Premier League that year, beating Reading 4-2 at Wembley, and supporters are hoping it is a good omen ahead of their meeting with Brentford on Saturday.
Swansea will be out to exact revenge upon the Bees having fallen to a 3-2 aggregate defeat in last season's play-off semi-finals. The pair played out two 1-1 draws this season, so it's too close to call as to who will join Norwich and Watford in the Premier League at this stage.
After last year's final heartbreak, Brentford are hoping this is their season to make the Premier League for the first time in their history. The Swans, however, will be looking to ensure the Bees are again the bridesmaid rather than the bride this weekend.
A man-of-the match showing against Barnsley on Saturday saw Grimes earn his second-best WhoScored.com rating of the season as he came away form the clash with a mark of 7.89. Rising to the big occasion, Steve Cooper is hoping his captain can skipper Swansea back to England's top tier at Brentford's expense.
Grimes has once again been a sturdy and reliable performer for Cooper's side in 2020-21 with his WhoScored.com rating of 6.99 the third best of all Swansea players.
Given Brentford's possession average of 54.4%, that the fifth best in the Championship, utilising Grimes' statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'passing' could be key in looking to prevent the Bees from adding to their 82 goals this season, that figure more than any other side.
Even when out of possession, though, Grimes has a huge role to play in the middle of the park and his head coach has regularly pointed out the work the Exeter product has diligently put in on the defensive side of his game.
The 25-year-old boasts WhoScored.com strengths of 'ball interception' and 'tackling' and - having won possession in the midfield third the second most times (188) in England's second tier this term - Grimes will be seeking to deny the Brentford midfielders the time and space to create.
Grimes is likely to find himself operating up against Emiliano Marcondes, who will be hoping to provide opportunities for 32-goal striker Ivan Toney..
The Dane has been in and out of the Brentford XI this season, but played a key role for the Bees in their second leg win over Bournmouth, notching his third assist of the season.
Marcondes has developed WhoScored.com strengths of 'key passes' and 'through balls' and he has the ability to pry defences apart in the blink of an eye when able to find the pockets of space in which he likes to operate.
Grimes and his midfield colleagues will hope to be able to limit his influence in the final third. A captain's shift at Wembley on Saturday could go a long way to securing a return to the Premier League for Swansea City.