Talking Tactics | Leeds United v Swansea City
Swansea City stormed into the third round of the Carabao Cup as they brushed Cambridge United aside in a 6-0 home win on Wednesday night.
The resounding victory extended Steve Cooper’s unbeaten start to life as Swans boss following his summer appointment, but he’ll face the toughest test of his short senior managerial career this weekend in the stand out tie of the weekend in the Championship.
Swansea are one of four teams yet to lose a league game in England’s second tier this term, another being this afternoon’s opponents Leeds.
The Swans sit second to Leeds in the Championship on goal difference only, with the pair leading the way with 13 points apiece following the opening five games of the season. The trip to Elland Road, then, is a challenging one for Cooper and his team, but one they shouldn’t fear.
At the time of writing, Swansea have scored more goals (11) than any other Championship side and having scored three or more goals in their last five competitive outings.
The South Wales side will be confident of hitting the back of the Leeds net on the back of that sequence, but it will be no easy feat for the Swans, with Leeds boasting the best defensive record in the Championship having conceded just twice this season, and just the once from open play.
Indeed, Cooper is going to need his top attackers to be firing on all cylinders to break down the Leeds backline, and in Andre Ayew, the Swansea boss is able to call upon a player in very fine form.
Ayew impressed in his first appearance of the season as he came off the bench to bag a brace in the Carabao Cup win over Northampton.
He’s one of two forgotten men thriving under Cooper - along with Borja Baston - and Ayew’s WhoScored.com rating (7.72) is the third best in the Championship this season. His stand-out performance came in Swansea’s most recent away match as he provided two assists in the 3-1 win at QPR, with his display in west London enough to land the WhoScored.com man-of-the-match award with an 8.31 rating.
Ayew will need to be at his attacking best in order to help his side to all the spoils at Elland Road today, but with a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘finishing’, if the chances are created for the 29-year-old, as evidenced against Northampton, then he will hope to bag his first league goal of the campaign.
Not only that, but with a WhoScored.com strength of ‘tackling’, Ayew has the defensive capability to ensure Leeds endure a tough afternoon down their left.
While Leeds have a preference of attacking down their right this season, Marcelo Bielsa still looks for his players to maximise the wings to hurt opponents, with 37% of their attacks coming down the left.
It’s important, then, that Ayew carry out his defensive duties and protect Connor Roberts at right-back, or it could be that Ezgjan Alioski puts in another fine shift from left wing-back.
The Macedonian earned a spot in the Championship team of the week last time out having secured the WhoScored.com man-of-the-match award with an 8.44 in their 3-0 win at Stoke.
Alioski was an attacking force to be reckoned with under Bielsa last season as he scored seven goals made a further five. If he is free to burst upfield, then he’ll look to add to his one league goal this term when Swansea make the trip to Yorkshire.
That said, when he does break forward, this will leave gaps at the back that Ayew can exploit to great effect and if he puts in another man-of-the-match display, then it could be Swansea who come away the happier of the two sides in today’s top-of-the-table clash.