Talking tactics: Daniel James
Football stats experts WhoScored.com focus on winger Daniel James ahead of Swansea City's clash with Aston Villa this afternoon (3pm).
The dreaded international break has finally drawn to a close as domestic duties return this weekend.
Swansea City will be looking to bounce back following a 3-2 defeat to Ipswich, though they’ll have to overcome an Aston Villa side hoping to capitalise on the new manager bounce this afternoon.
Boyhood Villa fan Dean Smith will be keen to start his managerial stint in the Midlands with all three points.
But after back-to-back wins to start the campaign, Villa have won only one of their last 10 league matches, with that victory coming at home against relegation candidates Rotherham.
Their poor form cost Steve Bruce his job at Villa Park and means they come into today’s clash 15th in the table.
That being said, nine of the 15 points they have picked up this season have come on home turf, so this won’t be a walk in the park for Swansea.
Yet while two of Villa’s three league wins have been at home, no Championship team has conceded more goals on their own patch than Villa (10) this season.
They’ll need to improve massively at the back if they are to quickly overcome their dire run of form in order to make a promotion push in the second half of the campaign.
Swansea will hope to prolong Villa’s woes today and with their defence anything but watertight, it may be that young Daniel James piles further misery upon a downtrodden Villa outfit.
Graham Potter handed the 20-year-old his competitive debut earlier this campaign and he has gone on to make five league appearances.
His dribbling capability is arguably his strongest trait, with James averaging 1.6 successful dribbles per 90 in the Championship this term – the third best return of all Swansea players to make five or more league appearances this season.
Against a Villa side with a statistically calculated WhoScored.com weakness of ‘defending against skilful players’, the Welsh winger could make a huge impact, particularly as he boasts a 100 per cent dribble success rate this term.
What’s more, a return of one key pass per 90 in the Championship this season highlights that James doesn’t merely run with the ball for the sake of it, but boasts an end product to go with his dribbling ability.
He is yet to score a league goal or provide an assist for the Swans, but if he continues to pin defenders back with his trickery, then it is only a matter of time before he changes that.
His unpredictability will go some way to ensuring Ahmed Elmohamady endures a difficult afternoon.
Only Mile Jedinak (7.26) has gained a better WhoScored.com rating than Elmohamady (7.08) of all Villa players this term and the Egyptian defender has the necessary experience to keep James quiet today.
However, if James is able to maximise his attacking quality from out wide, then Villa could be made to pay for a failure to keep the youngster in check.