Talking tactics: Renato Sanches

25th November 2017
First team

Football stats gurus preview Swansea City’s Premier League encounter with Bournemouth at the Liberty today.

The Swans need to return to winning ways after an indifferent run of form and the meeting with Bournemouth could be the perfect opportunity to put another three points on the board.

While the Cherries have won back-to-back away league games, only Crystal Palace (six) have lost more Premier League matches on the road this season than Eddie Howe’s team (four).

Bournemouth have also conceded in five of their six top-flight matches away from the Vitality Stadium this term, with their backline far from solid on their travels.

The absence through suspension of Simon Francis also hinders Bournemouth in their pursuit of a clean sheet and Swansea must capitalise in order to secure a crucial three points.

However, it’s from the midfield where Swansea can force the issue against Bournemouth, with Renato Sanches expected to feature today.

The South Wales side made headlines with their loan capture of the Portugal youngster over the summer and while he is yet to live up to his full potential, he has shown signs of his talent.

Sanches’ ability to drive the ball forward from deep is arguably his best trait, with the 20-year-old able to ghost past opponents as and when required to help punch a hole in the opposing defence.

Indeed, Sanches has developed a statistically calculated strength of ‘dribbling’ and for good reason.

Only Nathan Dyer (3.1) is averaging more successful dribbles per 90 than Sanches (3) of all Swansea players in the Premier League this season, with the latter a tough player to stop once he gains a head of steam.

What’s more is that Bournemouth have developed a statistically calculated weakness of ‘defending against long shots’, with Howe’s team seemingly unable to deny opponents the chance to test Asmir Begovic from distance.

One of Sanches’ four styles of play happens to be ‘likes to shoot from distance’ and if the Bournemouth midfield fails to close him down quickly, you can be sure the former Benfica man will take aim from long range.

Indeed, it’s possible that Sanches will score his first Premier League goal of his career this afternoon given Bournemouth’s away-day woes and tendency to concede on the road.

Andrew Surman is expected to be the man tasked with keeping Sanches in check this afternoon and while the 31-year-old isn’t a tough-tackling, ball-winning midfielder, his passing quality will help limit home possession.

Yet if Surman fails to live up to the billing, Sanches has the means to grab this game by the scruff of the neck and help Swansea secure a crucial win today.