Talking Tactics: Daniel James

6th April 2019
First team

Football stats experts take a closer look at Swansea City's in-form winger Daniel James as Graham Potter's men look to continue their strong home form against promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough today (3pm).

Swansea bounced back from their 2-1 loss at Nottingham Forest in fine fashion on Tuesday night as they romped to a 3-0 win over Brentford to extend their winning run against the Bees to seven matches. However, the Swans can’t afford to take things easy now as they gear up for today’s welcome of Middlesbrough with the games coming thick and fast.

Tony Pulis’s side have struggled in recent weeks, with their current five-match losing run the joint-longest of its kind in the Championship. Such a significant downturn in form has seen Boro drop out of the play-off places. With Middlesbrough now two points off the top six, Swansea will look to close the gap between themselves and today’s opponents to five points as they look to maintain their superb home form.

Swansea are one of five teams yet to lose a home Championship game in 2019 and have lost only one of their last nine competitive matches at the Liberty Stadium, that coming at the hands of Premier League title favourites Manchester City, so this was more the exception rather than the rule.

Given Boro have won only one of their last five away matches, Swansea should be confident of extending their dire losing run and themselves putting another three points on the board on home turf.

Central to their efforts will once more be the impressive Daniel James. The Welsh international earned the man-of-the-match award in Swansea’s 3-0 win over Brentford in midweek, as he scored one and assisted another from returns of three shots and one key pass, respectively. It could’ve been a more prolific evening for James, too, with the 21-year-old striking the woodwork in the early stages of the first half.

All in all, though, James did enough to return a rating of 8.58 in the comprehensive victory, his best in a Championship match this season. Manager Graham Potter and Swansea will hope he can churn out another strong display as the south Wales side looks to end the campaign strongly.

Swansea’s only statistically calculated strengths is ‘attacking down the wings’ and it’s here where the Swans, and specifically James, can hurt Middlesbrough.

Two of his four strengths are ‘dribbling’ and ‘key passes’ and with returns of 1.7 successful dribbles and 1.3 key passes per 90 minutes to show for his efforts, it’s easy to see why, with both of these traits ideal for a winger.

He’s set to start on the left again and with 38% of Swansea’s attacks coming down this flank this season, getting James on the ball as quickly as possible could prove a vital route to goal today. James is set to come up against Ryan Shotton in his pursuit of a goal or assist and the experienced full-back has the tools of the trade to ensure Swansea’s rising star fails to have the desired effect.

Shotton is currently the best rated right-back in the Championship, earning a rating of 7.19, and with a strength of ‘defensive contribution’, the 30-year-old certainly knows how to keep James in check.

It promises to be an intriguing battle which could well prove key in the final outcome.

James, though, made light work of Henrik Dalsgaard in midweek and he will have his sights set on getting the better of Shotton today and, in the process, prolonging Swansea’s fine home form with another three points.