TALKING TACTICS: Burnley v Swans

13th August 2016

Ahead of the Premier League's return, we have partnered up with football stats gurus to preview the trip to Burnley.

The Swans ended the 2015/16 season strongly, falling to defeat just twice in the final eight games of the campaign, which bodes well coming into the season.
While a host of attackers have departed the club, Swansea head into the meeting with Burnley with morale high following the club-record signing of Borja Baston and the arrival of Fernando Llorente from Atletico Madrid and Sevilla.
While Borja is not likely to be considered, Llorente can be expected to spearhead the Swansea attack at Turf Moor. The World Cup winning striker has made a name for himself as one of the game's physically dominant frontmen, maximising his big stature to trouble opposition defences. Head coach Francesco Guidolin can be expected to call upon Llorente's standing to trouble the Burnley backline.
Despite the Clarets' Championship title win last term, teams still managed to regularly test their goal, with an average of 14.3 shots conceded per game - the fourth highest in England's second tier last term.
After tumbling out of the Premier League 12 months ago, however, Sean Dyche and his side are well versed in the demands that come with playing in the top division of English football, despite their relegation a year ago.
Yet the only time these two teams have met in Burnley in the Premier League, Swansea secured a narrow 1-0 win courtesy of a Tom Heaton own goal. In fact, Burnley have won only one of the last six league meetings between the two teams, with Swansea coming out victorious on four of those occasions.

As good as Heaton is between the sticks, his lowly standing for a goalkeeper means Llorente's height and ability in the air would certainly trouble the England international.
The 31-year-old Spaniard boasts statistically-calculated strengths of 'aerial duels' and 'headed attempts' and if Swansea adopt a direct approach, they can maximise these traits of Llorente's game to put the Burnley defence under increased pressure.
Indeed, despite playing in Serie A for Juventus for two seasons, only two players have scored more headed goals than Llorente (29) in the last seven La Liga campaigns.
If those in possession for Swansea put the ball into dangerous positions for Llorente to utilise the strongest traits of his game, then the frontman can either go for goal himself or bring others into play. Either way, when on top of his game, Llorente is one of the more troublesome strikers to contain.
Conversely, the man expected to be tasked with keeping Llorente in check is young centre-back Michael Keane. The 23-year-old has earned rave reviews for a series of mature performances at the heart of the Burnley defence and was crucial in their title win last season, starting 44 of 46 league games for the Clarets. His rating (7.13) was one of the better returns for Burnley last season, while his dominance in the air has seen him gain a strength of 'aerial duels'.
Should Swansea look to play to Llorente's strengths, the Spaniard will likely embark on a real aerial battle with Keane in what could prove to be one of the more crucial head-to-heads when the Swans meet Burnley on Saturday. If the summer signing outperforms his centre-back counterpart, though, Swansea stand a great chance of a positive result on the opening day of the new campaign.

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