Talking tactics: Ki Sung-Yueng
Football stats experts WhoScored.com focus on Ki Siung-Yueng ahead of Swansea City’s crunch Premier League encounter with Southampton at the Liberty tonight (7.45pm).
Three points are essential tonight as two teams striving to pull away from danger do battle when Swansea City welcome Southampton to the Liberty Stadium.
Southampton came perilously close to securing a vital victory on Saturday as they were pegged back by Everton in the dying embers of the game at Goodison Park, with the South Coast side eventually forced to share the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
The Saints have won only two of their last 23 Premier League matches, a run which has seen them plummet down the table.
A run of six away matches without victory doesn’t bode well for Mark Hughes’ side and will serve as a boost for Swansea. Indeed, Swansea have won four of their last six home matches, with their only loss in that run coming at the hands of in-form Chelsea.
A return of 13 points from the last 18 available at the Liberty Stadium means Swansea have the joint-fifth best home form in that time and they need to make home advantage count tonight.
They’ll need to control proceedings in the middle of the park to put a crucial three points on the board, with Ki Sung-Yueng set to play an important role once more.
The South Korean has had a direct hand in four goals in the Premier League this season, three of which have come in his last four home appearances.
While not a renowned goalscorer, Ki has chipped in with some key goals at crucial times this season and his knack for netting in crunch matches will be welcomed tonight.
It’s his ability to control the tempo in the midfield that will also benefit Swansea against Southampton.
Of those to have made more than five Premier League appearances this season, Ki has the best pass success rate (88.4 per cent) for the Swans and it’s his ability to limit opponents’ time on the ball that makes him such a key figure for Carlos Carvalhal’s side.
As such, it’s little surprise that Swansea have a better win ratio with Ki featuring (25 per cent) in the Premier League this season than without him (16.7 per cent).
He is one the better-rated players at the Liberty Stadium this season, mustering a WhoScored.com rating of 6.82 in home matches, and if the 29-year-old can marshal the midfield tonight, then Swansea have the means to land a vital win.
Standing between Ki and a route to goal, though, is Saints anchor Oriol Romeu.
The Spaniard has been a regular feature in the team this season, starting 32 of 36 matches.
His WhoScored.com rating (6.89) is second only to Mario Lemina of all players currently at the club and if he can limit the home side’s chances, then Swansea will find it harder to put a positive result on the board.
However, Ki has the means to play the vital passes that will put Swansea on the front foot in their pursuit of an essential three points at Saints’ expense.