Talking Tactics | Charlton Athletic v Swansea City
After late heartbreak against Reading on Saturday, Swansea City have the chance to quickly get back to winning ways at Charlton tonight.
The Swans have since dropped to sixth following Tuesday night’s results, but only two points off top spot, and the travelling Jack Army will be aware that three points at The Valley sends their side back to top spot.
That will be no easy feat, however. Charlton sit one point behind Swansea as they quickly overcame back-to-back defeats to return to winning ways against Leeds at the weekend and confidence among the players is likely to be high.
The victory merely highlighted the unpredictability of the league, especially at the top, and that could work in Swansea’s favour tonight. Charlton may have an impressive home record, winning three of five in south London this season, but Swansea remain one of three sides yet to lose an away match this season having claimed eight points from an available 12.
Indeed, only Nottingham Forest (6) and Bristol City (five) are on a longer unbeaten run away from home than Swansea (four) in the Championship this season, so Cooper’s side are not to be underestimated. And with regular left-back Jake Bidwell suspended, the Swans boss will hope Kyle Naughton’s experience can prove vital in London.
The 30-year-old is set to start in defence tonight and his composure at the back is key. Only Mike van der Hoorn (68.1) is making more passes per 90 than Naughton (65.9) of all Swansea players in England’s second tier this term, reinforcing a statistically-calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘passing’.
The WhoScored.com match forecast suggests it is likely that Swansea ‘will dominate possession’ so Naughton’s quality on the ball will aid in building attacks from defence, and that could prove vital. One of the Swans’ styles of play is ‘attacking down the left’ and it’s clear that Naughton needs to ensure Swansea can continue to dominate opponents from his flank if they are to claim all three points at Charlton’s expense.
Defensively, too, Naughton needs to be on top of his game. Jonathan Leko may not have the best WhoScored.com rating (6.57) but his two assists in the Championship this season have come at the Valley. If the 20-year-old is left unchecked in the final third, it could prove testing for the south Wales side.
Conversely, one of Leko’s five statistically-calculated WhoScored.com weaknesses happens to be ‘defensive contribution’ and it’s this underwhelming trait to his game that Naughton can exploit. Should the Charlton winger neglect his defensive duties, then Swansea can utilise the opportunity to double up on likely starting right-back Chris Solly and maximise the left flank as a route to goal.
Charlton may have a solid home record this term, but Swansea very much have the means to inflict their second home defeat of the campaign tonight.
The Swans have lost just one of their last 14 league games. If Naughton and his team-mates play to their expected standards, then they will make it one from 15 at Charlton’s expense, with another three points, and top spot, within reach.