Talking Tactics | Swansea City v Bristol City
Swansea City will look to head into the international break on a high as they welcome Bristol City to the Swansea.com Stadium on Sunday.
Here, WhoScored.com have previewed the home clash, taking a look at what to expect from the Robins, they key battle and a key stat.
What to expect from Bristol City
With Bristol City 12 points off the playoffs and 13 clear of the relegation zone, the Robins have little to play for in the final weeks of the season with a mid-table finish likely. Nevertheless, Nigel Pearson will take his men to south Wales on Sunday with the aim of securing all the spoils to earn the bragging rights their side of the River Severn.
For the most part, Pearson has favoured a three-man defence, but has recently moved to a 4-2-3-1 setup, and that is likely to continue here. The system has Nahki Wells spearheading the attack, the 32-year-old is their top scorer this season with 11 league goals to his name, and Andi Weimann in support.
No player has registered more assists than Weimann (4) of all Bristol City players in England's second tier this term, with the promising Alex Scott operating as one of the two central midfielders at the base of the midfield. There is a solid core to this Bristol City side, but one that has been hampered by injury.
Robert Atkinson and Kal Naismith rank first and third, respectively, as the Robins' top rated players in the Championship this season, but the centre-back pair are sidelined for the game at the Swansea.com Stadium. As such, left-back by trade Cameron Pring is set to feature at the heart of the defence, with Jay Dasilva featuring on the left side of the defence.
This isn't such a bad thing, however. Dasilva ranks top for key passes per game (1.1) of all Bristol City players this season, while one of their statistically calculated WhoScored.com strengths is 'attacking down the wings'. That shouldn't come as a surprise considering just 21% of their attacks come through the middle of the pitch, the lowest proportion in the Championship, so keeping the ball from the flanks is crucial for Swansea.
What's more, a style of play of Bristol City's happens to also be 'attacking down the left' and for good reason. Not only does Dasilva rank top for key passes per game for the club, but left winger Anis Mehmeti places first for dribbles per game (2.5) for Pearson's side. That left flank could be vital for Bristol City at Swansea on Sunday, so shutting down that route to goal is imperative.
Once Swansea are on the front foot, however, Russell Martin has the players at his disposal to cause damage. All five of Bristol City's WhoScored.com weaknesses focus on defending, one of which is 'defending against through ball attacks'. With 'creating chances using through balls' a strength of Swansea's, the WhoScored.com match forecast suggests that it is likely Swansea 'will score as a result of a through ball', and this is where captain Matt Grimes comes into play.
'Through balls' happens to be one of Grimes' two WhoScored.com strengths, and understandably so. Only Josh Cullen (7) has made more accurate through balls than Grimes (6) in the Championship this season at the time of writing, while his seven assists is the fifth best in the division. Swansea will expect a captain's performance this weekend.
It's hard to look beyond Grimes as a key man once again for the Swans. A WhoScored.com rating of 6.76 is the third best for Martin's side, and he is the one who dictates the tempo for Swansea. Up against a Bristol City outfit that ranks in the lower half of the table for possession (49%), Swansea will see more of the ball on home turf, and it'll be up to Grimes to make this count.
However, as effective as Grimes is in possession, Pearson has a player at his disposal that is prepared to work hard for the ball to help protect the Bristol City goal. Teenager Alex Scott is on Premier League radars and understandably so. The 19-year-old ranks fourth for tackles per game (2.1) of all players for his side, but his hard work out of possession can land him in hot water with officials. Indeed, nine yellow cards ranks 10th in the Championship this season, and so fans are in for a tantalising midfield battle when Swansea host Bristol City on Sunday.
Swansea's possession-based approach means they are unlikely to score many goals on the counter. They have netted just the one such goal in the 2022-23 campaign, but they may well double that tally this weekend. One of Bristol City's WhoScored.com weaknesses is 'defending counter attacks' with four of the 44 goals they have conceded this season coming as a result of a counter attack, the fifth most in the Championship.