TALKING TACTICS: Swans v Sunderland
7th February 2015
Continuing our partnership with football statistics website WhoScored.com, here is a preview of this weekend's clash with Sunderland.
Last week the very best was saved until last as Jonjo Shelvey left it late to fire a rocket and claim a fantastic 1-0 victory for Garry Monk's men against Southampton at St Mary's.
Saints had boasted one of the best home records in the Barclays Premier League but that did not stop the Swans from coming away with three points, putting an abrupt end to Southampton's impressive run of five wins and a draw from their previous six games.
The Swans moved into the top half of the table to within three points of eight-placed West Ham, and will certainly be looking up the table rather than over their shoulders at what is panning out towards the table's base.
The win was certainly well-earned: Southampton have shown this season that they are a formidable outfit, and Swansea's defence was put through its paces time and again. They withstood everything that was thrown at them, though, with Kyle Naughton slotting in seamlessly on his debut. Lukasz Fabianski again impressed in goal, and the Swans have now kept the third-most clean sheets in the Premier League this season (nine), behind Chelsea and Southampton (ten each).
Meanwhile at the heart of the defence, captain Ashley Williams was a man-mountain as his performance was worthy of a place in WhoScored.com's European Team of the Week. That is, amongst all centre-backs across 98 teams in Europe's top five leagues last weekend, Williams' display ranked as one of the best two as he kept Southampton's lethal strikeforce at bay with an exceptional rating of 9.04.
To put that into context, there have only been three central defensive performances all season that garnered a higher rating than that. His quick-fire double clearance off the line was as important as Shelvey's goal at the other end.
He will hope to again lead his team to another clean sheet this weekend, with Sunderland the visitors to the Liberty today (Saturday). The Black Cats are yet to win a game at the home of the Swans, falling to a resounding 4-0 loss in their last trip to SA1.
In fact, Swansea are unbeaten in their last five meetings with Sunderland, scoring nine goals in those games and conceding only three.
Everything is in place for Swansea to build on last week's victory and make it successive wins. Monk has made the Liberty into something of a fortress and they should be confident of sending this week's visitors away empty-handed.
*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 editor-in-chief @alitweedale on Twitter