TALKING TACTICS: Swans v Manchester City
16th May 2015
Football stats website WhoScored.com are here to crunch the numbers ahead of our welcome of last season's Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City on Sunday.
Swansea took a big step to securing a top-eight finish this season with a hugely impressive 1-0 win at Arsenal on Monday night.
Against the odds, the Swans snatched victory at the Emirates Stadium, with the valuable three points moving Garry Monk's side to within a point of seventh-placed Southampton and two points of sixth-placed Tottenham Hotspur. A positive result against Man City on Sunday will ensure the club end the campaign no lower than their current standing.
However, recent form suggests Garry Monk's side could aim for an even higher finish this campaign, with a spot in next season's Europa League now a distinct possibility.
Only Sunday's opponents Manchester City (four successive wins) are currently on a better winning run than Swansea (three) in the Premier League and morale is high coming into the fixture as the Welsh outfit strives to finish the season on a high.
The team has been built on a solid back-line this term, with victory in North London earlier in the week securing the Swans their 13th clean sheet of the season. Monk's side now need to shut out an opposition side just one more time to match their best return of 14 clean sheets in a campaign in England's top tier, a feat accomplished in the club's debut season in the Premier League.
Neil Taylor has formed part of the defence that has impressed so often this season and was once again a solid presence in the narrow win over Arsenal on Monday night. Only Lukasz Fabianski (9.77), Jefferson Montero (8.56) and Federico Fernández (7.64) gained a better WhoScored.com rating than Taylor (7.45) of all players involved in the victory.
The 26-year-old was forced to compete with Ben Davies last term, but has made a starting spot his own this season, playing 2,910 minutes of a possible 3,240 in the Premier League. Taylor has justified the faith shown in him by Monk, with his average WhoScored.com rating this campaign (6.96) ranking among the top 10 Swansea players.
The Wales international will be hoping to build on his resolute performance at Arsenal, with the Swans tasked with halting the league's in-form marksman at the Liberty Stadium. After his hat-trick in City's 6-0 thumping of QPR last weekend, Sergio Agüero is now the league's top scorer, with 25 goals to his name.
Eight of Agüero's Premier League goals this season have come in his last five appearances for the Citizens, so the Swansea rearguard will need to be at their best when the Argentine makes the trip to Wales with his team. Taylor, though, has gained a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'blocking the ball', with the left-back not afraid to put his body on the line to block crosses and shots.
Given the creative and attacking personnel available to Manuel Pellegrini, Taylor must exhibit this side of his game with City making the trip to the Liberty Stadium this weekend. Doing so will significantly improve Swansea's chances of securing a positive result in Sunday's early kick off.
*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.