Talking Tactics | Swansea City v Nottingham Forest
Football stats experts WhoScored.com take a closer look at the form of Ryan Bennett, and explain why he can be a key figure in Swansea City's clash with Nottingham Forest.
Barnsley did Swansea a huge favour on Sunday as the Tykes secured a 2-0 win at Brentford to end the Bees' 21-match unbeaten run. In the process, Swansea remained four points behind Brentford, but with two games in hand after their meeting with Sheffield Wednesday was postponed due to a frozen pitch.
It means that a week will have passed since Swansea's FA Cup defeat at the hands of Manchester City, giving the Swans extra time to prepare for the midweek welcome of Nottingham Forest.
It's the second time this year that Forest will have travelled to the Liberty Stadium, and Swans supporters are of course hoping for a repeat of the 5-1 trouncing of Chris Hughton's side last month.
Since that heavy defeat, though, Forest have been much-improved and come into the clash on a four-game unbeaten run, winning two in that time, and have won their last three away league matches as the team begins to click under former Brighton and Newcastle boss Hughton.
Indeed, had the season started at the turn of the year, Forest would sit third in the table having picked up 14 points from seven games in 2021. So, while they are currently 16th in the overall standings, they are certainly not to be underestimated.
That being said, 25 league goals scored is among the lowest in the Championship this season, with Forest developing a statistically calculated WhoScored.com weakness of 'finishing scoring chances' as a result of their profligacy in 2020/21.
It just so happens they will be facing the best defence in the Championship. Swansea have conceded fewer goals (15) than any other team in England's second tier this term, and the arrival of Ryan Bennett from Wolves in October has played a part in that solidity.
Indeed, the 30-year-old has garnered a WhoScored rating of 7.11 in the Championship this season, that's the fourth best of all Swansea players this season, to reinforce his positive impact in Steve Cooper's side.
Considering Forest have scored in each of their last six away league matches, Bennett will need to be on top form once more in order to ensure Wednesday's visitors have little success in the final third.
Given Bennett is making more interceptions per 90 minutes (2.1) than any other Swansea player, the experienced centre-back boasts the positional awarness to try and ensure Hughton's side struggle to pry open this staunch Swans backline.
It's imperative Bennett and the Swansea defence do all they can to keep the ball from reaching striker Glenn Murray, who'll be aiming to build upon his superb full Forest debut earlier this month. The experienced striker bagged a brace on his first start for Hughton's side in a 3-0 win at Wycombe, earning the WhoScored.com man of the match with a rating of 9.10.
Forest may have struggled in front of goal over the course of the season, but the arrival of Murray means Hughton is able to call upon a prolific and reliable frontman who is experienced at this level, and has scored four times in six league meetings with the Swans.
However, in Bennett, Cooper has a Premier League calibre centre-back to call upon as Swansea look to continue their fine form.