Talking Tactics | Swansea City v Barnsley
Football stats experts WhoScored.com take a close look at the form of Swansea City goalkeeper Freddie Woodman, and assess how important a figure he can be in the second leg of the play-off semi-final against Barnsley.
It's half--time in Swansea's playoff semi-final meeting with Barnsley. The Swans take a one-goal advantage back to the Liberty Stadium after Andre Ayew's first-half strike proved to be the winner at Oakwell. However, Swansea will know they can't rest on their laurels ahead of Saturday's second leg match-up.
Indeed, it took a resilient defensive display to secure a 1-0 win on Monday, noted in that Freddie Woodman landed the WhoScored.com man-of-the-match award with a rating of 7.97. The narrow victory saw him earn his 21st clean sheet of the campaign, that at least four more than any other goalkeeper, and he'll need to be at his very best to keep Barnsley at bay again with a trip to Wembley up for grabs.
The 24-year-old has previous with the Tykes and a shut-out on Monday means he hasn't conceded in four outings against Barnsley. Alex Mowatt was the last Barnsley player to find a way past Woodman, that coming in the 1-1 draw between the Yorkshire outfit and Swansea in October 2019.
Only Watford (30) and Norwich (36) have conceded fewer goals than Swansea (39) in the Championship this season, while 16 goals shipped in 23 home league games is a superb return for a side that will secure a spot in the play-off final provided they can prevent Barnsley from scoring at the Liberty Stadium.
Of the goalkeepers to have featured in more than half of their league games for their current side in 2020-21, Woodman's save success rate of 71.3% is the third best in the division.
Given the Tykes scored just one goal in their final three away league matches coming into the play-offs, they will know the importance of making sure they take their chances against a Swansea side that has experience of this stage and one that'll be looking to exorcise last season's semi-final demons.
That said, Barnsley do have the personnel to hurt Swansea on their day and Monday night highlighted that Valerien Ismael's side post a threat. Much has been made of Daryl Dike's impact following his February arrival from Orlando City, but Cauley Woodrow will also be key in keeping the Swansea defence on their toes this weekend.
Woodrow may have scored just one goal in his last 10 league outings, but he ended the campaign as their top scorer with 14 goals to his name in all competitions.
The 26-year-old has never scored against Swansea in his career, drawing a blank in five outings and ending up on the losing side in three of those appearances. Yet in boasting a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'finishing', Swansea would be foolish to underestimate Woodrow and his importance to this Tykes team.
But Woodman will be looking to pick up where he left off from that excellent display at Oakwell, knowing another clean sheet will be enough to book a trip to Wembley later this month for Swansea.