TALKING TACTICS: Swans v Manchester City
14th May 2016
Ahead of the final game of the Premier League season, the official website has partnered up with football stats experts WhoScored.com to preview the welcome of Manchester City.
The Swans come into the fixture on the back of a hugely impressive 4-1 win against West Ham at Upton Park and will look to take the confidence garnered from the victory into Sunday's meeting with Manchester City. Swansea have been in fine form at the Liberty Stadium in recent weeks and have what it takes to end the campaign on a winning note.
Indeed, Francesco Guidolin's side have won their last four home league games - the current longest home winning streak in the Premier League - conceding just once the process. The experienced Italian boss recently penned a two-year extension at Swansea following his initial appointment in January with Sunday the ideal opportunity to show why he is worthy of a new contract.
City's away form of late, meanwhile, has been indifferent to say the least, with just two wins from their last six Premier League matches on the road. While the Citizens will look to give outgoing manager Manuel Pellegrini a good send off, they could struggle against a Swansea side that has performed admirably on home turf in recent weeks.
With some players possibly missing ahead of Euro 2016, however, much of the onus could be on Jack Cork to shoulder the responsibility in the middle of the park. Only captain Ashley Williams (7.19) has gained a better WhoScored.com rating than Cork (7.05) of all Swansea players this season, with the 26-year-old netting a fine goal in the 3-1 win over Liverpool on the Swans' last outing at the Liberty Stadium.
His tenacity in the middle of the park will be crucial as he aims to restrict City's immense offensive power. Pellegrini can call on the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero in the final third and limiting the supply to the forward trio is crucial in Swansea's pursuit of all three points. However, in Cork, Guidolin can call on a midfielder more than capable of stifling the trio.
The Englishman has gained statistically calculated WhoScored.com strengths of 'concentration' and 'ball interception', allowing for Cork to sniff out any potential danger to cut out the threat before it materialises into a goalscoring chance for City. Since his arrival from Southampton, he's become a key member of this Swansea side, with the Swans' win ratio with him starting (37%) better than without him (20%) in the Premier League this season.
However, if he and Swansea are to enjoy a victorious final game of the season, Cork needs to get the better of midfield counterpart Fernandinho. The Brazilian has gained a commendable WhoScored.com rating of 7.18 this season and having started more league games than any City outfielder (30) this term, is widely considered one of Pellegrini's more important players.
His energetic displays in the middle of the park have played a key role for City and while the club have underwhelmed this season, a top-four finish will be secured if they avoid defeat at the Liberty Stadium. If he plays to his potential, the Citizens have a stronger possibility of securing Champions League football next season.
With Cork more than capable of controlling the midfield on Sunday, though, City's chances of coming away with the desired result diminishes. His performances in the middle of the park have been impressive this season and he has the ability to stifle Fernandinho. If the City midfielder struggles as a result, Swansea have a greater chance of ending the campaign with five successive home league victories under their belt.
*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.