Talking tactics: Martin Olsson

23rd October 2018
First team

Football stats experts focus on Martin Olsson ahead of Swansea City's clash with Blackburn Rovers tonight (7.45pm).

It wasn’t the ideal way to return to action following the international break, but Swansea City need to quickly move on from the 1-0 loss at Aston Villa at the weekend.

With the games coming thick and fast, there is no time to dwell on the defeat. Instead the Swans must focus all efforts on returning to winning ways. think a former Blackburn Rovers player, Martin Olsson, can play a key role for the Swans as they look to do that tonight.

Blackburn have been no pushovers following their return to the Championship. Back-to-back wins, including a home victory over Leeds at the weekend, mean they come into this fixture in seventh and sit outside the top six on goal difference only.

On their travels, they have picked up 11 points from 18 available, which is one of the better away returns in the league, so Swansea need to keep their wits about them in order to not be on the receiving end of a home loss.

Rovers did lose on their last visit to the Liberty Stadium, a 3-0 reverse back in 2012, and Graham Potter would love nothing more than a repeat of the victory tonight.

A player who was on the Blackburn bench that day could be influential for the hosts tonight, with Olsson hoping to add to his one assist this season.

That assist came on home turf in the 2-2 draw with Leeds and the Swede will be aiming to add to that at Blackburn’s expense.

Potter’s switch to a three-man backline at Villa benefited the wing-backs.

Whether at wing-back or full-back, Olsson will look to push forward where possible in order to help stretch the Blackburn defence.

Indeed, while he has just one assist to his name, it’s not for the want of trying.

The 30-year-old has put in 0.7 key passes and 0.5 crosses per league game this term, the latter the third best return of all Swansea players this season, reinforcing a statistically calculated style of play of ‘likes to cross’.

A little more composure from the frontmen would see Olsson’s assist return improve and they’ll look to start tonight.

Tony Mowbray’s Rovers have developed a statistically calculated weakness of ‘defending against attacks down the wings’, so there is huge importance on Olsson and Connor Roberts to stretch the visitors' backline.

Should they do so, this will create space in the final third, which the attacking Swans players can maximise in their pursuit of goals.

That being said, Olsson can’t shirk his defensive responsibilities if the Swans are to secure all the spoils.

Blackburn have scored eight away goals this term, one of the better returns in the Championship, and with the in-form Bradley Dack pulling the strings behind, the Swans must be alert defensively.

Dack was the Championship player of the month for September with a 8.01 rating, and his willingness to drift across the final third means Olsson needs to be on top of his game when the Rovers star does opt to pull to the right.

His rating this season (7.27) is better than that of any other Blackburn player and having scored six and registered two assists, it’s pivotal the likes of Olsson work tirelessly off the ball in order to limit Dack’s impact.

However, this Swansea side have kept the joint-second most clean sheets in the Championship this season, with five, and it’s clear that Potter’s approach is having the desired effect, at least defensively.

If the experienced Olsson can churn out another solid display down the Swansea left, then a home win is very possible.