TALKING TACTICS: Swans v Everton
19th September 2015
Ahead of the top-flight meeting with Everton, the Swans website has partnered up with football stats expertsWhoScored.com to preview the encounter.
Garry Monk's men will be looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season to Watford last time out when they welcome an Everton side that will be high on confidence following a 3-1 victory over defending Premier League champions Chelsea.
The Swans will be keen to recapture the form that saw them pick up points against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United before the international break and know a victory at the Liberty could be enough to see them return to the top four.
In their path stand former Swans boss Roberto Martinez and the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and John Stones. Monk's side are unbeaten in their last three meetings with the Toffees in all competitions and will be confident they can stifle their free-flowing attack while also managing to break down their resilient defence.
Key to doing so will be in-form Swansea midfielder Jack Cork. The former Chelsea academy graduate has started the season in fine fashion, with only Bafetimbi Gomis (7.45) and captain Ashley Williams (7.44) earning a higher WhoScored.com rating than Cork (7.40) thus far.
The 26-year-old has made the role of shielding the back four his own in the Swansea squad since making the switch from Southampton in January, and he will have another crucial part to play in their weekend's clash with Everton when he is given the task of marshalling an in-form Barkley.
Only Riyad Mahrez (6) has had a direct hand in more league goals than Barkley (5) this season, but in Cork, Swans fans know they have a player more than capable of negating the 21-year-old from proceedings.
Barkley's ability to travel forward and bring others into play was something that Chelsea failed to deal with and a phenomenon that most have encountered problems with so far this season. Only four players in the Premier League have completed more dribbles than the England international (13) this season, but that should not cause reason to panic among fans, particularly with a player like Cork in the ranks.
The England midfielder has made 19 interceptions this season, accentuating his WhoScored.com statistically calculated strength of 'concentration'.
Cork's ability to read and anticipate the play around him will stand him in good stead when it comes to tracking Barkley's runs and intricate passes.
In fact, only Yohan Cabaye has made more interceptions in the Premier League so far this season (21).
Furthermore, it is not only Cork's ability to break down attacks that makes him such an integral part of Swansea's success, but also his composure on the ball that has seen him make such a smooth transition into the Swansea starting XI.
Of players to have made at least 20 league appearances since Cork joined at the end of January, no Swansea player has a better pass success rate than the 26-year-old (86.1%).
Only three English players have a better WhoScored.com rating than Cork so far this season and if he can continue providing performances that have contributed to Swansea's bright start - starting against Everton - then there is no reason why he cannot join club team-mate Jonjo Shelvey in future England squads.
*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 Josh Wright on Twitter.
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