Talking Tactics | Swansea City v AFC Bournemouth
A hard-fought 2-0 win over Luton Town on Saturday saw Swansea City end the weekend inside the top four, just two points off Norwich City in first. Goals from Connor Roberts and Andre Ayew at the beginning and end of the game means Swansea have won three of their last five league outings.
Attention now turns to the midweek welcome of fellow high-flyers Bournemouth. The Cherries got their promotion push back on track with a resounding 4-0 win over Barnsley and, ahead of the midweek clash at the Liberty Stadium, Bournemouth sit just a point above the Swans.
Jason Tindall's side have been solid on their travels this term, with their 13 points earned one of the better records in the 2020-21 season. A three-match unbeaten streak on the road should boost morale coming into this clash, but Swansea in turn have their solid home form to call upon.
Indeed, only Watford (19) and Reading (18) have earned more home points than Swansea (17) in the Championship this season and, while Bournemouth's record of 15 away goals scored is the third best in the division, Steve Cooper's side have a resolute backline capable of blunting the Cherries attack.
No team has conceded fewer home goals than Swansea (four) in England's second tier this term and it'll take a big effort to ensure Bournemouth are unable to exhibit their statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'finishing scoring chances'.
However, with Ben Cabango in fine form under Cooper this term, Swansea have the capability to keep Tindall's side at bay.
Cabango has excelled for Swansea this season with his WhoScored.com rating of 7.07 the third best of all players for Cooper's side who have made five or more league appearances in 2020-21. Swansea have conceded just eight goals in the 12 games the 20-year-old has started this term, and the young Welsh centre-back has been a key cog in Cooper's three-man defence.
Given all seven of Bournemouth's WhoScored.com strengths are focused on attacking, Cabango and his defensive team-mates are likely to be in for a testing 90 minutes in midweek. However, with a statistically calculated WhoScored.com style of play of ‘clears the ball out of defence often', Cabango's proactive approach can go some way to keeping the Bournemouth attack at bay in south Wales.
An average of 4.4 clearances per 90 minutes is more than any current Swansea player this season and, if Cabango is in the right place at the right time to alleviate pressure on his goal, you can be sure he'll do all he can to get the ball away from danger. At the other end of the pitch, Cabango also has what it takes to put the Bournemouth backline to the sword with his threat from set-pieces.
While the youngster has scored just two league goals this season, both have come at the Liberty Stadium in wins over Millwall and Blackburn. Considering Bournemouth have developed WhoScored.com weaknesses of 'avoiding fouling in dangerous areas' and 'stopping opponents from creating chances', if Swansea do win free-kicks in dangerous positions, Cabango's aerial dominance will allow him the chance to add to his two league goals.
First and foremost, though, Cabango will look to play his part in denying Bournemouth’s offensive threats. It's a former face who looks set to partner Dominic Solanke on the frontline at the Liberty Stadium this week, with Sam Surridge returning to the south of Wales on Tuesday night.
Surridge made 20 appearances for Cooper's men last term before he was recalled by Bournemouth and, while he took some time to force his way into Tindall's plans, the 22-year-old has been in good form of late.
His only two league goals this season have come in his last two outings in meetings with Preston and Barnsley as he looks to repay the faith shown in him by the Cherries boss.
Surridge may have had to be patient, but he seems hellbent on making up for lost time and keeping the young forward quiet is imperative for Swansea.
In Cabango, though, Cooper has the ideal centre-back to limit Surridge's impact at his former, albeit brief, stomping ground and maintain both Swansea's fine home defensive record and their push for promotion at the expense of a rival.