Talking Tactics | Norwich City v Swansea City
Football stats experts WhoScored.com assess Marc Guehi's excellent start to the season, and the role the defender can play as Swansea City take on Norwich City this weekend.
Swansea City deserve plenty of credit for holding Brentford to just one goal in west London on Tuesday night while posing no shortage of attacking threat themselves.
Ivan Toney moved cleared at the top of the Championship goalscoring charts, netting his 10th league goal of the season in the first half, but Andre Ayew's late equaliser saw the spoils shared and extended Swansea's unbeaten run to five games.
The matches don't let up though, in this most hectic of seasons, and Steve Cooper will be keen to see his side go into the international break on a high as they gear up for Saturday's trip to Norwich.
The Canaries endured an indifferent start to the season, earning one win from the opening four league matches, but come into the weekend unbeaten in six following their midweek draw with Millwall.
Just one point behind Swansea coming into this intriguing clash between two of the early pacesetters, Norwich will look to make home advantage count this weekend, even though their form at Carrow Road has been inconsistent.
The draw with Millwall means Norwich have won just twice on home turf this term as they look to make an immediate return to the Premier League.
Swansea, meanwhile, boast one of the better away records in the Championship in 2020-21 and, after their 1-1 draw at Brentford, they are one of two teams at the time of writing yet to lose an away match this season. Norwich may look to home comforts, but the Swans have been solid on the road and that resolve on their travels will be vital once more.
Only Stoke (two) have conceded fewer away goals than Swansea (three) in England's second tier at the time of writing, and their fine backline will be important as they seek to end their disappointing run of results at Carrow Road.
Marc Guehi enjoyed a solid loan stint with the Swans over the second half of the 2019-20 season and returned to the Liberty Stadium over the summer, establishing himself as a key man in Steve Cooper's favoured three-man defence.
Guehi is one of only three Swansea players to have played every league minute this season, and his consistency at the heart of the defence means his WhoScored.com rating of 7.07 is the third best of those to have made five or more league appearances this season.
A primary reason for his solid rating has been his fine reading of the game, a trait that belies his tender years.
One of the 20-year-old's statistically calculated WhoScored.com strengths is 'ball interception' and for good reason, having made more interceptions (20) than any other Swansea player in the Championship this season.
Against a Norwich side that boasts a WhoScored.com strength of 'creating chances using through balls', Guehi will need to exhibit this positional awareness once more in order to ensure Norwich struggle to forge goalscoring opportunities using this method at Carrow Road.
Also boasting a WhoScored.com strength of 'passing', Guehi is then able to instigate attacks from the back, and this composed and clinical approach to defending could go some way to keeping the Canaries grounded on home turf.
And, operating on the left of the three-man defence, Guehi will come up against one of Norwich's key creative players.
Emiliano Buendia operates from the right flank for Norwich and, given his performances last season, the Argentine has highlighted that he is a Premier League-calibre attacker.
He will be expected to play a key role in their push for a return to England's top tier, and Swansea will not need reminding of how his wonderful finish settled the contest the last time they went to Carrow Road.
Buendia (7.34) has a better WhoScored.com rating than any other Norwich player this season, and has had a direct hand in three goals in his last four outings for Daniel Farke's side.
Crucially for Norwich, one of Buendia's statistically calculated WhoScored.com strengths is 'through balls', an area in which they are deemed to be Very Strong.
If granted the time and space to pick his pass, then the 23-year-old has the vision to pick out the runs of Teemu Pukki, the lone striker in Farke's favoured 4-2-3-1 setup. The Finnish frontman has scored four times this term, three of which have come in his last four outings.
It sets up an interesting head to head with Guehi looking to to keep Buendia at bay at Carrow Road this weekend.
But, given his good form in Swansea's three-man backline this season, the youngster has the ability to keep Norwich's Argentine creator quiet and limit the Canaries' impact in the final third in what is another huge game for Swansea and Cooper.