Talking Tactics | Swansea City v Coventry City
Football stats experts WhoScored.com take a close look at Conor Hourihane's fine form since joining Swansea City, and why his ability to find the net from distance could be key in Wednesday's clash with Coventry City.
It was an afternoon to forget for Steve Cooper and his Swansea side on Saturday as they fell to a 4-1 defeat at Huddersfield. Fortunately, three of the other members of the top six lost over the weekend and, while the result leaves the south Wales side in fourth after Watford's win over Derby, they still sit just one point off the automatic promotion places with two games in hand.
Nevertheless, it's imperative that Swansea get back to winning ways quickly. The welcome of Coventry offers a chance for the Swans to quickly get back to winning ways. The Sky Blues did Swansea a favour over the weekend as they secured a 2-0 win over promotion rivals Brentford to end a five-game winless run, but Coventry still sit just five points above the drop zone.
On the road they have struggled in their quest to consolidate a Championship spot. Indeed, only Wycombe (nine) have earned fewer away points than Coventry (10) in England's second tier this term, with Mark Robins' men unable to string a run of results together on their travels to boost their survival hopes.
Conversely, Swansea are unbeaten in 12 at the Liberty Stadium, that the second longest unbeaten run at home in the Championship this season, while only two teams have picked up more home points than Cooper's side (32) in 2020-21.
Coventry's 25 away goals conceded is one of the worst such records in the Championship and their defensive record means that three of their five statistically calculated WhoScored.com weaknesses are focused on defending. One of those is a weakness that could potentially be exploited by Conor Hourihane.
Robins' side have developed a weakness of 'defending against long shots', and Hourihane has already shown Swansea fans his considerable capabilities when it comes to finding the net from distance.
The 30-year-old scored his fourth goal in is fifth league appearance for the Swans at Huddersfield on Saturday, and importantly his third from outside of the box.
No player has scored more goals from outside of the box than Hourihane (three) in the Championship this season, despite the fact that he has featured just five times for Swansea.
As one might expect, Hourihane has developed a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'long shots' and this weapon in his arsenal is one he'll look to maximise against Coventry this week.
Coventry need to limit Hourihane's chances from distance and that'll increase the pressure on Liam Kelly to keep the Republic of Ireland intenational at bay.
The Scot has made just 10 appearances for Coventry this season due to injuries, but the skipper ranks first for interceptions per 90 minutes (2.3) of all Sky Blues players. Kelly's impressive reading of the game could be key if the visitors want to ensure Swansea are unable to get the ball to Hourihane and allow him the opportunity to really test Ben Wilson between the Coventry sticks.
However, Hourihane has been exceptional at hitting the back of the net from distance for Swansea, with three of his seven shots finding a way past an opposition goalkeeper, and if he finds the space to work the chance this week, it will boost Swansea's chances of rapidly getting their promotion push back on track.