Talking Tactics | Swansea City v QPR
Football stats experts WhoScored identify captain Matt Grimes as a key man in Swansea City's Championship clash with QPR at the Liberty Stadium.
As Swansea City aim to do the league double over QPR this season, they can take solace from their fine home record against their west London counterparts.
Indeed, the Swans are unbeaten in the last six meetings between the pair at the Liberty Stadium, winning four of those. Factor in QPR's dire away record and all signs point to a home win here.
Steve Cooper’s side were unbeaten in their last five on home turf prior to Saturday’s disappointing defeat to Derby County, and as we near the business end of the season, the Swans' form in SA1 can boost their hopes of a play-off spot.
For QPR, their play-off hopes have effectively gone up in smoke. A run of two wins in their last nine leaves the R's a whopping 12 points off the play-off race and just nine points above the bottom three.
Swansea have the means to inflict further misery upon a QPR outfit that has ultimately travelled poorly in recent weeks.
And with Matt Grimes in good form going into the clash, WhoScored believe the Swans will pick up three points tonight.
Only Andre Ayew (7.37) has earned a better WhoScored.com rating than Grimes (7.13) of all Swansea players this season and his possession-based approach will prove crucial in this midweek clash.
Swansea have developed a statistically-calculated WhoScored.com style of play of 'possession football' and much of that is down to Grimes and his ability to dictate the tempo in the middle of the park.
He is top for passes per game (63.7) and third for pass success rate (82.8%) of all Swansea players in the Championship this season, reinforcing a statistically-calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'passing', that in itself deemed ‘very strong’. And if he can exhibit this strong trait to his game against QPR, then Swansea should have no problem extending their find home record against the capital outfit.
That being said, QPR are no slouches in possession themselves. They, too, have developed a WhoScored.com style of play of 'possession football' as they rank fifth for possession (53.2%) in the Championship this term.
Mark Warburton and Cooper have a similar ethos in that they demand their teams play a possession-based, aesthetically pleasing style of football. As such, it'll take a huge effort for Swansea and Grimes to win the midfield battle tonight to secure all the spoils.
Keeping the ball from star man Ebe Eze is the best way of limiting the QPR offensive, too, so Grimes needs to put in a captain's performance to minimise the youngster's influence in the final third.
Eze has a better WhoScored.com rating (7.44) than any other QPR player this season. He is the club's second top goalscorer in the Championship this term, with 10 goals to his name, and has registered more assists (six) than any other R's team-mate.
The 21-year-old also ranks top for WhoScored.com man-of-the-match awards won (eight) in England's second tier this term and if he is granted the time and space to maximise his immense attacking talent, then Eze will add to his contribution in front of goal.
Yet in Grimes, Cooper has the ideal midfielder to ensure QPR see little of the ball, and on home turf with the Swansea support behind the team, then it could be a long 90 minutes for QPR.
Boasting such an impressive home head-to-head record against tonight's opponents, mixed with QPR's underwhelming away form, Swansea's promotion quest will yield another shot in the arm if they play to the best of their ability tonight and with Grimes excelling in the middle of the park, expect the R's to come away from the Liberty Stadium empty handed.