TALKING TACTICS: Burnley v Swans
28th February 2015
Continuing our partnership with football statistics website WhoScored.com, here is a preview of this afternoon's fixture with Burnley at Turf Moor.
What a weekend it was last week for the Swans as they came from behind to record a league double over Manchester United for the first time in their history.
The gap between the sides not so long ago was as many as four leagues, but on this season's showings there is very little between them indeed.
While United battle it out for a top four spot, Swansea are not far behind, still in contention for European qualification through their league position.
WhoScored.com's rating system, which has Swansea (average rating of 7.00) only just behind United (7.20), reflects this.
Garry Monk's men have twice been the better side in their clashes this season, though, and were deserved winners at the Liberty last weekend. They showed fantastic belief to come back and take all three points, taking swift advantage of Manchester United's biggest weakness according to WhoScored.com's statistically calculated characteristics: protecting the lead.
The Swansea attack stole the limelight with two wonderful goals, but the win was built on strong foundations, with this new-look back line standing strong once again. Aside from Ander Herrera's well-taken opener, the defence of Neil Taylor, Ashley Williams, Federico Fernandez and Kyle Naughton stood strong to protect Lukasz Fabianski's goal from Rooney, van Persie and co.
Naughton has been brilliant since signing from Tottenham in January, racking up a WhoScored rating of 6.97. Compare this to the 6.30 he has managed for Spurs this season and it is clear that all he needed was a run of games and for some confidence to be shown in him.
Only Ki Sung-Yueng (7.27), Williams (7.25) and Jonjo Shelvey (7.21) have better ratings since the turn of the year than Naughton, who has provided solid defensive displays, as well as contributing going forwards too. Strengths of passing and tackling highlight the variety to his game - comfortable both with and without the ball.
This weekend the Swans will be looking to record another league double with a trip to Burnley on the cards. They won the first meeting 1-0 back in August, and with Monk having a fully-fit squad - minus Kyle Bartley - they stand a good chance of doing so again.
With Burnley also weak when it comes to 'protecting the lead' according to the WhoScored database, Swansea's never-say-die attitude could again come in handy.
Burnley are also rated as very weak when it comes to 'defending against attacks down the wings' and that could play into the hands of the marauding Naughton, who will again look to overlap and add to the assist he has already registered since moving to the Swans.
Burnley are a tough side to beat - as Chelsea realised last week - but the Swans' victory over united gives them big hope of making it back-to-back wins.
*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 editor-in-chief @alitweedale on Twitter.