TALKING TACTICS: Manchester City v Swans
12th December 2015
Ahead of the top-flight meeting with Manchester City, we have partnered up with football stats experts WhoScored.com to preview the encounter.
The Swans will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing home loss to Leicester and upset the odds at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday against a Manchester City side that has won just one of their last four Premier League games.
To add to that, Manuel Pellegrini's side have conceded seven goals in their last three top-flight outings and a lack of defensive solidity is indeed hindering their title chances.
In fact, when looking at teams in the top half of the Premier League table, only Crystal Palace (6) and Watford (5) have lost more games than City (4) this season.
And following City's gruelling midweek Champions League meeting with Borussia Monchengladbach, Swansea will look to exploit any possible fatigue in the ranks to secure a positive result.
The Swans, currently managerless following Garry Monk's departure on Wednesday, would be wise to adopt a similar game plan to that of West Ham and Liverpool to harbour a stronger chance of upsetting the odds. The Hammers and the Reds sat back and soaked up the pressure before hitting City on the break in what were both memorable performances at the Etihad Stadium from the visiting side.
If the Swans are to shut out City, they will likely look to their captain and centre-back Ashley Williams as a means of doing so. The 31-year-old has established himself as one of the more consistent defenders in England's top tier following Swansea's promotion to England's top tier back in 2011.
His ability to play the ball out from the back is one of his strongest assets having gained a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'passing'.
Rather than look to clear the ball from danger - aimlessly losing possession in the process - Williams' approach allows Swansea to play the ball to the midfield, accentuating his ability to instigate attacks from the back. Against a City side that is likely to peg the away team back in their own half, a cool head at the heart of the defence is required to ensure the Swans can repel attacks.
With a WhoScored.com strength of 'ball interception', Williams can put his impressive reading of the game to good use in order to frustrate City. The title contenders have gained a strength of 'creating chances using through balls', so Williams' ability to pre-emptively sense danger and stem the flow of attacks can not only ease the pressure on Lukasz Fabianski's goal, but help launch swift counter offensives.
As the game wears on, if Swansea can routinely thwart City, the home side will be forced to commit men forward, thus leaving space at the back to exploit. For this to be possible, however, Williams needs to be on top of his game.
Fortunately for the Welshman, though, he is not expected to come up against City's star striker Sergio Aguero, but rather a former team-mate.
Wilfried Bony returned to competitive action following injury in impressive fashion against Gladbach on Wednesday, coming off the bench to register two assists and bag his second Champions League goal of the campaign.
Bony actually found the net against his former club on the penultimate day of last season during a 4-2 win, and the Ivorian will look to do the same this time around.
Williams, who is currently Swansea's joint-highest rated player with a WhoScored.com rating of 7.08, is familiar with Bony's game and if he can play to his full potential, City could be on losing side once more in front of their own fans.
*WhoScored.com is a unique website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Provided with unique stats, they compile and create comprehensive analysis on the major European divisions, including live match stats and player ratings. You can follow @WhoScored and their editorial assistant Ben McAleer on Twitter.