Talking Tactics | Nottingham Forest v Swansea City

28th November 2020
First team
Jake Bidwell Talking Tactics

Football stats experts take a look at the form of Jake Bidwell, and outline why the wing-back can be a key figure in this weekend's clash with Nottingham Forest.

A 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday in midweek may have been a frustration for Swansea City as they seek to secure a Premier League return, but they remain just four points off league leaders Norwich, and three behind the automatic promotion places. 

So there is still little between those chasing a place in England's top tier ahead of gameweek 14 in the Championship.

Steve Cooper, though, will be wanting a return to winning ways at the expense of Nottingham Forest.

A poor start to the season - in which they lose their first four leagues games - means Forest sit just three points above the relegation zone. 

But Chris Hughton has come in and steadied the ship somewhat. All three of Forest's wins in 2020-21 have come since Hughton succeeded Sabri Lamouchi in early October.

Indeed, Hughton has overseen just three losses in his short stint at the City Ground so far. 

However, back-to-back defeats following the international break has not been ideal. A 3-2 defeat at QPR on Tuesday night means only Derby (nine) and Wycombe (eight) have lost more games that Forest in the Championship this season.

Conversely, Forest are unbeaten in their last four home league matches as they picked up points at the expense of their relegation rivals. Sunday's welcome of Swansea, then, will be a interesting test during the early stages of Hughton's City Ground tenure.

Then again, no team has lost fewer away games than Swansea (one) in the Championship this season and they will be looking to keep that sequence going in the East Midlands.

It could prove to be that Jake Bidwell plays a key role in the Swans' trip to Nottingham. The defender has moved to wing-back as Cooper utilises a three-man defence to good effect, with Bidwell returning a rating of 6.97 in 2020-21.

The attacking side to his game has been vital in Swansea's good start to the season with the 27-year-old have a direct hand in five league goals this campaign, scoring once and providing four assists; no defender has contributed to more goals than the Swansea man.

Sunday's trip to Forest presents Bidwell with the ideal chance to add to that return. The match forecast suggests that it is Likely Swansea 'will score from a wingplay situation', and this plays into Bidwell's strengths.

One of the Swans' styles of play is 'Attacking down the left', while a strength of theirs is 'Attacking down the wings'.

With 39% of Swansea's attacks coming down the left, Bidwell has the opportunity to add to his four assists this season; only Bryan Mbuemo and Tyrese Campbell (both five) have registered more in the Championship this term.

Given only Derby (one) have kept fewer clean sheets than Forest (two), Swansea will be looking to end Hughton's fine home form at the start of his stint at the City Ground.

The hosts will be looking to Cyrus Christie to prevent Bidwell from utilising the attacking side to his game in Sunday's lunchtime kick-off.

The 28-year-old is Forest's top-rated player in the Championship this season, returning a rating of 7.03.

In addition, two of Christie's four strengths are defence-focused, which bodes well for Forest as they look to keep one of Swansea's main attacking threats at bay.

Yet with two of Bidwell's three best-rated performances coming away from home this season, the Swansea man has the capability to help stretch the Forest backline as the visitors look to inflict a third-straight defeat on their hosts.