Talking Tactics | Swansea City v Preston
Having beaten Northampton Town 3-1 at the Liberty in the Carabao Cup thanks to an Andre Ayew brace and a George Byers strike, attention turns back to league duties as the Swans aim to maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign.
Steve Cooper’s side are one of nine teams unbeaten teams in their opening two league matches and the Swans will be looking to extend their early home form against a Preston team that suffered defeat in their opening away fixture.
Alex Neil’s side are notoriously a tough unit to break down on their day, but they have lost their last five away league matches.
Swansea, too, will be confident of adding to their away-day woes having won their last five home meetings with the Lilywhites along with keeping a clean sheet in the last three having netted seven times without reply.
The Swans’ home record is well worth documenting too thanks to a 12-match unbeaten run in SA1. All signs point to a home win and while Swansea can’t simply rest on their laurels as they seek to make it seven points from nine, there’s a very good reason why they go into this tie as favourites.
Preston may have failed to score in their last three away league matches, but Swansea need to hold their defensive resolve in order to keep the Lilywhites at bay, which adds to the importance of Jay Fulton at the base of the midfield.
Cooper has implemented a 4-2-3-1 setup following his appointment, with Fulton operating alongside captain Matt Grimes to help shield the backline.
The Scot was named the WhoScored.com man-of-the-match is this fixture last season with Fulton scoring one of his two career league goals in a 1-0 win over Preston, landing an 8.17 rating in the process.
However, he’ll be required to ensure Preston have as fewer opportunities as possible to come away from the Liberty Stadium today with a result.
Fulton ranks among the top 15 players for tackles (seven) in the Championship this season, reinforcing a statistically-calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘tackling’.
Two good showings in positive results against Hull and Derby has seen the 25-year-old return a WhoScored.com rating of 7.21 - the fourth best of all Swansea players - and it further signifies his importance to the system Cooper has brought in following his summer appointment.
Preston may have lost prized forward Callum Robinson to Sheffield United over the summer, but that doesn’t mean Neil is devoid of attacking options.
Daniel Johnson made his first appearance of the season in last weekend’s 3-0 win over Wigan and ultimately played a pivotal role in the victory on home turf.
The Jamaican midfielder provided assists for Louis Moult and Paul Gallagher against the Latics as he maximised a statistically-calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘key passes’.
Having landed a WhoScored.com rating of 7.92 in the comfortable victory, Swansea need to err on the side of caution or else they run the risk of their home unbeaten run coming to an abrupt end at the hands of Preston.
Cooper, though, is unlikely to allow complacency to set in, even accounting for Swansea’s fine home form against Preston, and if Fulton puts in another determined display, an unbeaten start with three points to boot should continue this afternoon.