TALKING TACTICS: Swans v Southampton
13th February 2016
Ahead of today's game against Southampton, we have teamed up with football stats experts WhoScored.com to preview the Premier League encounter.
The Swans are unbeaten in their last four Premier League fixtures, taking eight points from a possible 12 in the process.
The four-point gap between themselves and 18th-placed Norwich offers head coach Francesco Guidolin breathing space in the race to stave off relegation and they will look to make home advantage count in their bid to pull away from the bottom three.
Of course, they will be made to work for maximum points against a Southampton side that has kept five successive clean sheets and won four of their last five Premier League games in the process. However, the absence of the tough-tackling Victor Wanyama should hamper Saints' chances of a positive result at the Liberty Stadium.
In the middle of the park, the Kenyan would have been perfectly suited to counter the threat Jack Cork carries. The 26-year-old former Southampton midfielder is a reliable performer in the middle of the park for Swansea with his WhoScored.com rating (6.90) the third best at the club.
Meanwhile, Swansea win more points per game with Cork starting (1.2) than without (0.9). Indeed, if he can control the midfield battle, Guidolin's side stand a much stronger chance of picking up a crucial three points.
His dependable outings for Swansea will be key for the hosts as they look to move up the table. Given Saints' goalscoring woes away from home - only Newcastle (six) and West Brom (eight) have scored fewer Premier League goals on the road than the south coast side (10) this season - Ronald Koeman's team may struggle to hit the back of the net this weekend, despite their recent upturn in form, particularly if Cork plays to his potential.
Having gained a statistically-calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'concentration', Cork boasts the necessary mental toughness to ensure Saints struggle to forge goalscoring opportunities, while the English midfielder is capable of instigating attacks for his side.
He's expected to be made to work hard to limit Saints' efficiency in the middle of the park, however, with Jordy Clasie set to make his 11th league start of the season at the weekend.
The Dutchman moved to St. Mary's from Feyenoord back in the summer, yet struggled initially upon his arrival due to injury and the rigours of the English game.
However, he's begun to stamp his authority in games, with Clasie more than capable of setting the pace of matches when on form. If allowed to do so, the 24-year-old will be granted the opportunity to control proceedings for Saints.
It is, therefore, down to Cork to stifle Clasie to improve Swansea's chances of a positive result. If the former can shut down the latter, the Swans have what it takes to prolong their unbeaten run and stretch it to five league games.
*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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