Talking Tactics | Swansea City v Brentford
Despite winning just once since August, Swansea City trail Championship leaders West Brom by just three points.
And after being pegged back to a 1-1 draw by struggling Barnsley last weekend, Steve Cooper’s side will be determined to record a fourth home win of the league campaign when Brentford visit SA1.
The London side have a dire record against Swansea going into this clash at the Liberty Stadium. The Swans have won their last seven competitive meetings with Brentford, netting 18 times in the process.
What's more, only Birmingham and Wigan (five) have lost more away Championship away matches than Brentford (four) this season, so statistics lean in Swansea’s favour.
What is expected is that Cooper will look to Matt Grimes to put in a captain's performance and lead them to victory.
Only Andre Ayew (7.40) has earned a better WhoScored.com rating than Grimes (7.14) of all Swansea players in the Championship this season, with the 24-year-old the heartbeat of the side. Only Romaine Sawyers (789) has made more passes than Grimes (741) of all midfielders in the Championship this season to reinforce a statistically-calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'passing'.
What's more, only Jay Fulton (2.7) is making more tackles per game than the Swans skipper (2.6) to reinforce a strength of 'tackling'.
Like Swansea, Brentford too have developed a WhoScored.com style of play of 'possession football', so Grimes' ability to retain and recycle possession successfully is pivotal as the hosts aim to disrupt the away side's rhythm.
Considering Brentford's possession average of 54.8 per cent is the third highest in England's second tier, ensuring the Bees are unable to play their natural game on home turf is the best way to put a seventh win of the season on the board.
If Grimes is to marshal the midfield on home turf, he needs to play to the best of his ability to ensure Josh Dasilva fails to dominate proceedings in the middle of the park.
Like Grimes, Dasilva also boasts a statistically-calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'passing' with his 54.8 passes per 90 and pass success rate of 83.7 per cent ranking highly for all Brentford players.
It was the 20-year-old's late goal that sparked a turnaround against Millwall as Brentford came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at the weekend, with Dasilva in line for just a fifth start of the season as a result. However, Brentford's form with Dasilva starting is shaky at best, with the Bees winning only one of four league matches the youngster has started this term.
With Grimes the more experienced of the two midfielders, the Swansea star has what it takes to ensure Brentford's poor run with Dasilva starting continues and inflict a fifth away defeat upon the Bees.
History favours Swansea going into this clash, but they need to put in another fine showing in order to come away from this meeting with Brentford with all the spoils. If Grimes can shine once again, that should be a formality in this match up in south Wales.