Talking Tactics | Swansea City v Nottingham Forest
It was a dramatic finish to the end of August for Swansea City, who secured a last-gasp 1-0 win at Leeds to end the month top of the Championship.
Steve Cooper is yet to taste defeat as Swans boss following his appointment at the Liberty Stadium and the victory at Elland Road marked another fine performance from his side.
The league leaders can’t rest on their laurels now, however. They welcome Nottingham Forest to SA1 this afternoon in a bid to maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign.
Having lost only one of their last six home meetings with Forest, winning three of those, the onus is on the Swans.
Having won nine of their last 11 home league matches, form is very much in Swansea’s favour as they look to keep the Liberty Stadium a fortress in their push for a Premier League return.
In fact, only Manchester City – in the FA Cup – have tasted victory at the Liberty since Aston Villa’s 1-0 win back on Boxing Day.
Their quest for three points is easier said than done against Forest, however. Of the nine points they have accumulated this season, five have come on the road - where they are unbeaten - winning one and drawing two of three league matches.
That said, Swansea are one of only two teams to win every home match this season and if Cooper’s side can continue as they have started, then it’s likely they will make it four home wins from four today.
Swansea have scored more goals (12) than any other Championship side this season, and they have really impressed at the back too.
Only Leeds (three) have conceded fewer goals than Swansea (four) this term and their resolute backline saw both Freddie Woodman and Mike van der Hoorn feature in the WhoScored.com team of the month for August.
The latter has been a vital member of the Swansea XI in the opening weeks of the campaign.
Only Andre Ayew (7.50) has earned a better WhoScored.com rating than van der Hoorn (7.35) of all Swansea players this season and Cooper will be demanding another resolute showing from the Dutch centre-back on home turf today.
Three of Forest’s four statistically-calculated WhoScored.com strengths are attacking focused, while the WhoScored.com match forecast suggests it is likely that Forest ‘will create many scoring chances’. With nine goals scored this season, Forest are no slouches when it comes to finding the back of the net and having netted in every league game this campaign, they are able to score on a whim as and when required.
However, with van der Hoorn in such fine form under Cooper, it’s possible that Swansea will be the first side to shut Forest out this term.
One of Forest’s statistically-calculated WhoScored.com weaknesses is ‘keeping possession of the ball’, and this benefits van der Hoorn. The defender boasts a strength of ‘passing’, that deemed very strong, so if he is given the time to play the ball out from the back, then Forest and their failures to routinely keep hold of the ball may be made to pay.
The 26-year-old, though, will have to keep hotshot striker Lewis Grabban quiet.
Grabban is set to lead the line for Forest and has already scored four league goals this term. Importantly for the Nottingham side is that three of those four have come away from home.
The 31-year-old earned the WhoScored.com man-of-the-match award with a 8.47 rating on his last away outing, that coming in a 2-1 win at Fulham, with Grabban very much versed in the demands that come with playing on the road.
But Swansea’s reliable centre-back has exhibited his defensive credentials on a number of occasions this term, as proven in his inclusion in the August team of the month, and if he plays to his best, then Grabban is expected to endure a frustrating afternoon.