TALKING TACTICS: Crystal Palace v Swans
23rd May 2015
Ahead of the final day of the season, football stats website WhoScored.com crunch the numbers prior to the Swans' trip to Crystal Palace.
Swansea have impressed on their travels of late, winning three of their last four league games away from home. The only blip on the record came at a resurgent Leicester, who have looked unstoppable in recent weeks.
Having already secured the highest points tally in their top-flight history and guaranteed themselves a top-eight finish, the Swans will be out to end what's been a successful campaign on a high.
But they will be made to work for the three points at Selhurst Park against a Palace side striving to end the season in the top half of the table themselves. The Eagles brought their four-game losing streak to an end at Liverpool last weekend, so morale is set to be high in the Palace camp coming into this fixture.
One player likely to be tasked with ensuring Swansea come away from the meeting in London with the spoils is Jack Cork. The midfielder moved to South Wales in January and has become an instant hit with the Swans fans after a series of hugely impressive performances following his arrival. Of all players currently at the club, only Ashley Williams (7.23) has gained a better WhoScored.com rating than Cork (7.19).
The tenacity Cork has brought to the midfield has hugely benefitted Monk's men since his January arrival, giving the Swans an outside chance of returning to European football, though that was put to an end with defeat at home to Manchester City on Sunday. Nevertheless, Cork, like his teammates, gave a good account of himself in the last home game of the campaign against the former champions.
A similar display will be required if Swansea are to come away from the English capital with all three points. Despite faltering in recent weeks, Alan Pardew's side are still capable of overcoming any opponent on their day.
However, the Eagles have taken fewer home points (18) than any other Premier League team this season, with their form in London leaving a lot to be desired. Nevertheless, if they are to secure maximum points, creator-in-chief Jason Puncheon has a key role to play for the London outfit. The 28-year-old has been Palace's highest rated player in their last two league fixtures - 7.36 and 9.48, respectively - netting in recent meetings with Manchester United and Liverpool.
Puncheon is the man charged with providing the ammunition for the Palace attackers, while going for goal at any given opportunity. Monk, therefore, will look to Cork to limit Puncheon's influence in the middle of the park and having gained a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'concentration', one would not bet against the England hopeful from stifling his midfield adversary on Sunday.
Much of the focus will be on the relegation battle this weekend, but there is still plenty to play for at Selhurst Park as Swansea look to end their impressive campaign with a flourish.
*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 editorial assistant Ben McAleer on Twitter.