Talking Tactics: Mike van der Hoorn
Football stats experts WhoScored.com take a closer look at the form of Mike van der Hoorn as Swansea City prepare to take on Nottingham Forest this afternoon (3pm).
The dreaded international break is over and, with wall-to-wall action over the coming weeks, the Championship is the league to watch between now and May.
Domestic duties resumed on Friday night as West Brom took on Birmingham at the Hawthorns and attention now turns to today’s meeting at the City Ground as Nottingham Forest host Swansea.
The Swans were desperately unlucky not to secure an FA Cup semi-final spot at Premier League powerhouse Manchester City’s expense, though the manner of the result means the international break came at a good time for Swansea. The time away from domestic duties will have allowed Graham Potter the opportunity to refocus his side’s efforts for the final run-in.
While 10 points off the play-offs, if Swansea can hit the ground running there is no reason why they can’t make a late surge for a promotion push, starting with today’s visit to Nottingham. The Swans are unbeaten in their last five meetings with Forest, winning two, and they will fancy their chances of causing an upset at the City Ground.
Martin O’Neill has overseen a run of just one win from their last four and it’s seen Forest’s own play-off push stutter as a result. Now just seven points above Swansea, it’s pivotal Potter’s team closes that gap to provide a solid foundation on which to build upon as the campaign comes to a head.
Keeping things tight against a Forest side that have scored in each of their last five home games is of the utmost importance and it again heaps the pressure on centre-back Mike van der Hoorn. The Dutchman has earned a WhoScored.com rating of 6.99 this season, the third best of all Swansea players, and his ball playing ability will limit the time Forest have on the ball.
Indeed, only Matt Grimes (65.4) is averaging more passes per game than Van der Hoorn (60.4) of all Swansea players this season, reinforcing a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘passing’.
Given all five of Forest’s weaknesses are focused on the defensive side of their game, if Van der Hoorn can marshal the backline accordingly, then Swansea can hit the hosts on the counter attack.
Forest are also missing the club’s top goalscorer, Lewis Grabban. The 31-year-old has netted 15 league goals this season, a solid return for Forest, and his loss is undoubtedly the Swans’ gain. It increases the pressure on the experienced Daryl Murphy to fill Grabban’s boots on the frontline.
Murphy, though, has scored just three league goals this season and hasn’t netted a Championship goal since the New Year’s Day win over Leeds.
In Van der Hoorn, Potter at least has the requisite defender to keep Murphy quiet and if the 26-year-old can keep his Irish opponent in check, then Swansea’s chances of a victory increase significantly.
That being said, Murphy is no slouch and Van der Hoorn can’t simply rest on his laurels to guarantee a clean sheet.
However, as one of Swansea’s more consistent performers this season, another Van der Hoorn masterclass could result in three vital points for the south Wales side and inflict a second-successive home league defeat upon Forest.