Talking tactics: Ki Sung-Yueng
Football stats experts WhoScored.com focus on Ki Sung-Yueng ahead of Swansea City’s Premier League clash with Brighton.
Swansea City landed a crucial 1-0 win over Burnley last time out in the Premier League and after a 0-0 draw with Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup last week, top-flight duties resume with a testing trip to Brighton today.
The Seagulls have performed better than some may have given them credit for in their debut Premier League season, but sit just one point above Swansea coming into today’s encounter at the Amex.
Swansea, though, have form on their side.
Victory over the Clarets means the Welsh side are unbeaten in their last five league matches, three of which have been wins.
Only Tottenham (nine games) are on a longer unbeaten run in the division.
Indeed, since Carlos Carvalhal took the reins, only Manchester City (17), Liverpool (16) and Tottenham (15) have picked up more points than Swansea (14).
The Portuguese boss will look to put another three points on the board on the South Coast this afternoon and considering Brighton’s disappointing form, you would back Swansea to leapfrog the Premier League new boys.
They’ll need to control proceedings in the middle of the park in order to land another victory, with Ki Sung-Yueng set to play another influential role.
The South Korean netted his first Premier League goal of the season in the win over Burnley, with his showing against the Clarets returning a WhoScored.com rating of 7.76 – enough to secure the man of the match award.
Ki will need to be at his marshaling best in order to limit Brighton’s chances of testing the Swansea goal, but then you’d expect the 29-year-old to successfully retain possession in order to ease any pressure on the defence.
Indeed, a 90.9 per cent pass success rate is better than any other Swansea player to have made five or more Premier League appearances this season and has helped develop a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘concentration’.
Considering Brighton have scored just 15 home league goals this term, Ki’s calming influence in the middle of the park is likely to frustrate Chris Hughton’s side and open up space for Swansea to hurt their hosts.
Opposite number Davy Propper will hope to limit Ki’s impact on the game and while he perhaps hasn’t quite lived up to lofty expectations following his arrival from PSV, the Dutchman is a testing adversary on his day.
No Brighton player is making more interceptions per game than Propper (1.9) in the Premier League this season, while 1.7 tackles per game also ranks highly for the Seagulls.
His defensive resolve will be necessary to ensure Ki doesn’t grab a stranglehold on the game, while the attacking side to his game means Swansea need to be wary of the offensive threat he carries.
Swansea, though, have a better win ratio with Ki starting (33.3 per cent) than without him (20 per cent) in the Premier League this season and if he can churn out another solid display in the middle of the park, Carvalhal’s team will have a decent chance to get a result.