TALKING TACTICS: Southampton v Swans
17th September 2016
Ahead of Sunday's trip to Southampton, we have partnered up with football stats experts WhoScored.com to preview the encounter.
Swansea fought back excellently from a goal down to secure a positive result against Chelsea last weekend and they will now look to push on and end their current three-game winless run.
Francesco Guidolin's side, however, have had the luxury of a full week off before their meeting with the Saints, who could be fatigued following their midweek exploits against Sparta Prague.
Claude Puel's team, despite a 3-0 win on Thursday night, have struggled in the Premier League this season, with the Saints currently one of three teams yet to secure a top-flight win this season. The Frenchman is hopeful of overseeing two wins from two, but could come unstuck when a familiar face returns to St. Mary's.
Jack Cork left Southampton for Swansea in January 2015 and has become a mainstay in the Swans' starting XI since his switch to the Liberty Stadium.
Indeed, the 27-year-old has started all four Premier League games under Guidolin this term, gaining a respectable WhoScored.com rating of 7.07 in the process. Provided he can maintain a commendable level of consistency against the Saints, Swansea have a better chance of a positive result on Sunday.
Having made the third most tackles and interceptions combined (27) of midfielders in the Premier League this season, Cork's defensive qualities are vital in Swansea's pursuit of all three points this weekend.
His fine reading of the game has helped Cork develop a statistically-calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'ball interception', with his ability to pre-emptively cut out danger not only easing pressure on the Swansea goal, but in turn allowing for the player to initiate attacks from midfield.
As one of the two deep-lying midfielders in Guidolin's 4-2-3-1 formation, Cork's defensive resilience is vital, particularly with midfield partner Leroy Fer looking to burst forward from deep to add another dimension to the attack.
An effective shield of the defence is of the utmost importance, particularly with Dusan Tadic operating in the number 10 role in Puel's favoured 4-3-1-2 formation.
While the 27-year-old is yet to directly contribute to a league goal for Saints this season, it was his free-kick last weekend that led to Petr Cech's own goal that put the team close to a positive result at the Emirates Stadium. Tadic is an effective performer from dead-ball situations and is capable of prying open any defence in the blink of an eye, given his creative qualities behind the striker.
If given a free pass to perform to his best, Tadic has the ability to carve open the defence.
It only heightens Cork's importance in the middle of the park. If he can keep his Serbian counterpart in check, Swansea have the capability to restrict Saints and come away from St. Mary's with a clean sheet.
*WhoScored.com is a unique website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Provided with unique stats, they compile and create comprehensive analysis on the major European divisions, including live match stats and player ratings. You can follow @WhoScored and their editorial assistant Ben McAleer on Twitter.
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