Talking Tactics | Stoke City v Swansea City

25th January
First team
Bersant Celina Talking Tactics

Football stats experts WhoScored cast their eye over Swansea City's trip to face Stoke, and examine the impact Bersant Celina could make in the Potteries.

Today's trip to Stoke could prove to be a big game for Swansea in their push for a Championship play-off place.

The Swans have a game in hand over a number of their play-off rivals and could go level with Nottingham Forest in fifth with victory at the Potters.

Steve Cooper has overseen a four-match unbeaten run to push his side to within one point of the top six as Swansea seek a potential return to the Premier League.

But, while Stoke sit just four points above the relegation zone, they have been gradually improving under the watchful eye of Micheal O'Neill. Indeed, since the 50-year-old's appointment in November, Stoke have earned 20 points from 13 matches, the 10th best such return in that period.

So while the Potters have been faltering, they are not to be underestimated this afternoon.

That being said, Swansea's fine away record means they can be confident against a Stoke side who, despite a four-game home unbeaten run, have struggled on their own patch this term.

While making huge strides under O'Neill, no team has earned fewer home points than Stoke (15) in the Championship this season.

It'll be a testing fixture for Swansea this afternoon, but they have the personnel capable of hurting their hosts.

Wigan Bersant Celina

In Bersant Celina, Cooper has at his disposal a player more than capable of unlocking the Stoke defence today.

He is averaging more key passes per 90 minutes (2.0) than any other Swansea player in the Championship this season to reinforce a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'key passes'.

It's his ability to pick out a team-mate and play eye-of-the-needle passes that can really trouble Stoke.

One of the Potters' two statistically calculated WhoScored.com weaknesses is 'defending against through ball attacks', which plays into Celina's hands.

Along with 'key passes', another of the Kosovo international's WhoScored.com strengths is 'through balls' and if he can pick the right ball for the likes of Rhian Brewster, Andre Ayew or January arrival Conor Gallagher, then the Stoke rearguard could find themselves in real difficulty.

With Celina expected to start on the left of Potter's favoured 4-2-3-1 setup, it means Tommy Smith is set to be the player tasked with limiting Celina's influence in the final third.

That said, while the 27-year-old has returned a solid WhoScored.com rating of 6.69, the number of goals conceded per league game with Smith starting rises from 1.41 to 1.64.

Cardiff Bersant Celina

Having developed a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'concentration', however, Smith has the mental qualities to not be caught out in his quest to keep Celina quiet today.

Yet if Celina is able to pry apart the Stoke backline and the Swansea forwards boast their shooting boots, then the young creator has the means of adding to his two goals and two assists in the Championship this season.

Stoke got the better of Swansea at the Liberty Stadium earlier this season and the Swans would love to exact revenge w
ith Celina the attacking fulcrum to ensure Cooper's side can come away from Staffordshire with all the spoils.

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