Talking Tactics | Cardiff City v Swansea City
As Swansea City prepare for the first South Wales derby of the season, football stats experts WhoScored.com take a closer look at the form of Yan Dhanda, and the role he can play against Cardiff City.
The South Wales Derby is the game Swansea City and Cardiff City fans instantly look for when the fixture list is announced ahead of each season. This weekend, the fierce rivals lock horns at the Cardiff City Stadium and just four points separate the pair in the table coming into the clash.
Cardiff earned a 2-1 win at Stoke in midweek to make it four successive victories, while the Swans were held to a 0-0 draw by fellow promotion hopefuls Bournemouth.
Nevertheless, the stalemate with the Cherries means Swansea have lost only one of their last six league outings, but they'll be keen to get back to winning ways at the home of their neighbours in Saturday's early kick off.
Swansea boast a solid recent record against the Bluebirds having gone unbeaten in the last three meetings between the pair, winning two and conceding none in that run. Given the Swans' solid defensive record this term, they will hope that run can continue on Saturday.
Indeed, Swansea have conceded fewer goals (10) than any other Championship team this season, with Tuesday's stalemate with Bournemouth marking their ninth clean sheet of the campaign - more than any other side and a fine return after 17 matches.
That said, Cardiff's defensive resolve has helped them in their push up the table, with a Sean Morrison own goal on Tuesday night just the 14th they have shipped in 2020-21.
Therefore a player capable of prying apart a solid backline in Cardiff on Saturday is vital for Cooper's men and it may prove to be that Yan Dhanda plays an influential role in Swansea's aim to land all three points this weekend.
The young attacker boasts a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'key passes' and his eye for a defence-splitting pass will be key in attempting to unlock a staunch Cardiff defence that has conceded just one goal in the last four home league outings.
What's more, Swansea seem to benefit when Dhanda does start in the Championship this season. Cooper's side are yet to lose a league match the 21-year-old has featured in from the off, winning four of seven matches. What's more, the goals scored per game record increases from 1.00 to 1.29 when Dhanda starts, while goals conceded per game drops from 0.80 to 0.29.
For all of Dhanda's attacking input, though, he has just one goal and one assist to his name this season and he'll be eager to add to that record against Cardiff. Tasked with keeping Dhanda at bay this weekend is likely to be Joe Ralls, who comes into the clash on the back of a man of the match showing in Cardiff's 2-1 win at Stoke.
The midfielder has garnered a WhoScored.com rating of 7.02 in the Championship this season and, for all his work in the final third, Ralls has still developed a strength of 'tackling'. The 27-year-old will look to exhibit this weapon in his arsenal in order to limit Dhanda's influence in Saturday's massive meeting.
However, having Dhanda in the starting XI is clearly a boost for Swansea and if Cooper uses the youngster from the get go, then it can have a positive impact in the Swans' push to earn bragging rights from this hotly-contested encounter.