TALKING TACTICS: Review of the season

30th May 2017
First team

Following the culmination of the Premier League campaign, the official website has teamed up with football stats experts to review the season.

Swansea guaranteed their Premier League safety on the penultimate weekend of the season with a 2-0 win at Sunderland, with their survival confirmed following Hull’s 4-0 loss at Crystal Palace the following day.

A 2-1 win over West Brom on the final day of the campaign wrapped up a bright end to the term as the Swans went on a five-game unbeaten run to pull away from the relegation zone - winning four and drawing the other.

A 15th-placed finish was as good as they could have hoped for when, for a period, it seemed as though they were destined for the drop and huge credit must go to Paul Clement and his coaching staff for turning the club’s fortunes around.

Clement’s accomplishments didn’t go unnoticed as he was put forward for the Manager of the Year award, an accolade ultimately won by title-winning Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, but his nomination was a worthy one to say the least.

As the Swans entered rough seas around Christmas, Clement came in and steadied the ship.
In fact, had the season started at the turn of the year, the Swans would be eighth in the Premier League with 29 points from 20 games.

Indeed, Clement has worked wonders in his short spell at the Liberty Stadium helm, with a key man in the XI coming in the form of Gylfi Sigurdsson.

The Iceland international earned a better rating (7.25) than any other Swansea player this season and his influence in the final third cannot be overstated.

Sigurdsson ranked third for assists (13) and seventh for key passes (80) in England’s top tier this term as the underpraised creator-in-chief highlighted once more why he is so highly thought of in South Wales.

A further nine goals means he had a direct hand in 48.9% of Swansea’s Premier League goals this term and it was no shock to see him sweep up at the club’s end of season awards ceremony earlier this month.

His goalscoring exploits, though, were overshadowed by summer arrival Fernando Llorente, who made an impressive impact following his summer arrival from former Europa League champions Sevilla.

Llorente finished the season as the club’s top scorer with 15 goals to his name, while only Olivier Giroud (30.8%) had a better conversion rate than the Spanish striker (28.8%) of the 21 players to score 10 or more goals in the Premier League this season.

The partnership between Llorente and Sigurdsson was crucial over the campaign.

Indeed, the Sigurdsson to Llorente assist-to-goalscorer combination was the joint-best in the top-flight of English football, returning six goals.

Looking further back and it’s hard to discredit the form of Alfie Mawson and Federico Fernandez at the heart of the Swansea defence.

A summer arrival from Barnsley, Mawson may have taken time to nail down a regular starting spot at the Liberty Stadium, but he was a key man when Clement took over the reins.

The 23-year-old gained a rating of 6.99, the second best for the Swans, in what was a fine debut campaign in England’s top tier.

His partner at the back was largely Fernandez, with the experienced Argentine a crucial player for the Swans.

Swansea won only one of their 11 league games Fernandez didn’t start compared to 11 of 27 he did, further highlighting the Argentine’s importance to the side.

January arrivals Jordan Ayew, Luciano Narsingh, Martin Olsson and Tom Carroll also deserve ample credit for their impact in the second half of the season as the quartet all played a vital role in their own regard.

All in all, following a sloppy few months, Swansea ensured they ended the season well in the Premier League and will be plying their trade among the best in England once more next term, with Clement warranting ample credit for the way he turned the club’s fortunes around.

The foundation is there for further success in the coming campaign.

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