TALKING TACTICS: Swans v Sunderland
13th January 2016
Ahead of Wednesday's game against Sunderland, we have teamed up with football stats experts WhoScored.com to preview the Premier League encounter.
The Swans will be out to inflict further misery upon the Black Cats, who are currently mired in the relegation zone. A 3-1 win over bottom club Aston Villa will have been a welcome reprieve for Sunderland, that victory ending a run a five consecutive defeats. However, they are expected to be up against it when they make the trip to the Liberty Stadium.
Sunderland have taken fewer points (4) than any other team away from home in the Premier League season, while the Black Cats have also conceded more league goals (28) than any other top-flight side on road this term. Evidently, Sam Allardyce's side struggle with the demands of playing away from home and this could play into the hands of a Swansea side that has made progress under the watchful eye of Alan Curtis.
While an FA Cup loss to Oxford was a real blow, the performances in the Premier League have improved under Curtis, with Swansea now two points clear of the bottom three. Victory at Sunderland's expense will indeed go a long way to helping the side stave off relegation as they look to put more light between themselves and the bottom three.
Key to that coming to fruition could be Andre Ayew, who will be keen to add to his six league goals this season. While the Ghanaian international's form has tailed off of late, he is expected to provide Swansea's primary attacking threat against a Sunderland outfit that struggles to keep out the opposition.
Ayew has been utilised in a more advanced attacking role since Curtis' appointment and he can be expected to torment the Black Cats defence from the first minute to the last.
However, while Ayew is strong in the air, it's crucial Swansea play the ball to his feet. One of Sunderland's two statistically calculated WhoScored.com strengths is 'aerial duels', so pumping the ball long will only play into the visitors hands in their bid to secure a positive result. Given Ayew's quality when in possession and Sunderland's weakness of 'defending against skillful players', it's vital Swansea stick to their principles and keep the ball on the deck in order to put another three points on the board.
Of course, Sunderland will likely look to captain John O'Shea in order to repel Ayew's threat in the final third. Allardyce will hope the Irishman can maximise his experience in order to limit Ayew's influence, though should he fail to do so, the Swansea star can be expected to get the better of his Sunderland counterpart.
The Swans are unbeaten in their four home Premier League meetings with Sunderland and have what it takes to prolong this record on Wednesday night.
*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.