Talking Tactics | Swansea City v Preston North End

22nd January 2022
First team
Flynn Downes

After a battling 1-1 draw at Huddersfield, Swansea City return to the Stadium looking to get back to winning ways at Preston's expense.

Ahead of this one, preview Saturday's game in south Wales...

What to expect from Preston

Preston have only played five matches since Ryan Lowe took over the Lilywhites reins, so it is difficult to really gauge what the Swans can fully expect from Saturday's opponents.

However, after back-to-back wins to kick off Lowe's time at Deepdale, Preston approach the weekend's game on a three-match winless run, albeit their sole defeat in that period was to Cardiff in the FA Cup.

After being reduced to 10 men against Sheffield United in the week, Preston fought back valiantly to come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with the Blades, so there is plenty of fight in the squad, which should be a boost ahead of the trip to Swansea.

What is key is that Lowe has opted for continuity following his appointment last month. He has elected to use a 3-4-1-2 system, with Daniel Johnson operating between the midfield and attack. Johnson has benefited from the deployment in the number 10 role, having a direct hand in four goals across four league appearances under Lowe.

Ben Whiteman and Alan Browne forge a solid midfield partnership that allows Johnson to pry apart opponents in the final third and it means the latter is able to operate without being overburdened with defensive responsibilities.

Whiteman and Browne shoulder their defensive duties with aplomb, with both developing statistically calculated strengths of 'ball interception' to ensure opponents struggle to create through the middle.

That said, when on the ball, Preston have a knack for conceding possession to opponents too easily. A 69.9% pass success rate ranks 16th of 24 Championship teams this season, a metric Swansea (86.1%) place first for.

It's seen Preston develop a statistically calculated weakness of 'keeping possession of the ball' and Swansea are the sort of side who are capable of capitalising on any errant play. Repeat that statistic and Preston may struggle to add to the 11 away league goals they have scored this season, that the fifth fewest in the division.

Key battle

Huddersfield Town away Flynn Downes clap

Swansea will seek to dominate possession on home turf on Saturday and Flynn Downes is a key player for that to come to fruition.

Only team-mate Kyle Naughton (92.5%) has a better pass success rate than Downes (92.3%) of all Championship players this season, while an average of 62.2 passes per game is the 10th best in England's second tier.

Downes played no part in the reverse fixture, but comes into Saturday's game on the back of his second best rated performance of the season having earned a rating of 7.39 at Huddersfield at the weekend.

However, he'll have his work cut out to win the midfield battle against Preston. Whiteman is Preston's best rated player having earned a rating of 7.09 this season and he has certainly proven a solid signing following his arrival from Doncaster 12 months ago.

Key stat Stadium

Teams will often rely on home advantage to claim the upper hand and Preston are no different, picking up 21 points at Deepdale this season.

However, on their travels they have struggled. Only Peterborough (three), Barnsley (four) and Hull (11) have earned fewer away points than Preston (12) this season, so not only will Swansea be out for revenge on the back of their defeat in the reverse fixture, but they will be looking to extend Preston's tough run of away form in the process too.