Talking Tactics | Swansea City v Sheffield Wednesday
Football stats experts WhoScored.com take a look at the recent form of Swansea City captain Matt Grimes, and how he can prove a key figure in the upcoming clash with Sheffield Wednesday.
Swansea City bounced back from their 1-0 defeat to Norwich prior to the international break with a 1-0 victory over Rotherham on Saturday to move to within two points of the Canaries in top spot.
And the Swans will keen to at least maintain that gap between themselves and first when they welcome Sheffield Wednesday to the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Owls started the season with a 12-point penalty - subsequently reduced to six - and, after their 1-0 loss at Preston, sit three points off safety coming into gameweek 13.
Wednesday recently replaced Garry Monk at the helm with Tony Pulis, and the trip to Swansea will mark his second game in charge of the Yorkshire club.
Pulis saw his team fail to muster a shot on target at Deepdale and he'll hope for an improved attacking display in south Wales in midweek.
However, their lack of creativity over the weekend has been representative of their season to date. Only Nottingham Forest (two) have scored fewer away goals than Sheffield Wednesday (three) in the Championship this season, which has seen them develop a statistically-calculated WhoScored.com weakness of 'finishing scoring chances'.
Against a Swansea side that has conceded just seven league goals after 12 games this season - only Middlesbrough (six) have shipped fewer - the Owls will have to reverse those trends if they are to be successful in their quest for three vital points this week. And, with Matt Grimes hitting his stride in time for the midweek clash, Swansea's will be seeking to make it back-to-back wins.
Grimes made the WhoScored.com Championship team of the week with a rating of 9.40 for his performance against Rotherham, which was his best in a Swansea shirt and the fifth best in the Championship during 2020-21.
The 25-year-old has been solid for Cooper's side this term and having bagged the winner against the Millers - his first goal from open play for Swansea since a League Cup meeting with York City in August 2015 - the Swans captain's confidence will be sky high coming into the visit of the Owls.
Boasting statistically calculated WhoScored.com strengths of 'tackling' and 'ball interception', Grimes' hard work out of possession will mean he can look to make it difficult for Sheffield Wednesday to create chances through the middle of the pitch, with the midfielder's work-rate a key reason for Swansea's defensive resolve at this stage of the season.
In the final third, too, Grimes has an important role to play. He has had a direct hand in two league goals this season, with those coming in his last three league appearances. If the WhoScored.com match forecast is anything to go by, then he will add to that record this week. It is deemed to be 'Likely' that Swansea 'will score from a set-piece situation', which suits Grimes' WhoScored.com strength of 'Taking set-pieces', which in itself is judged to be Very Strong.
Sheffield Wednesday, meanwhile, have developed statistically calculated WhoScored.com weaknesses of both 'avoiding fouling in dangerous areas' and 'defending set-pieces'. Given Grimes' fine ability to pick out a team-mate from a dead-ball situation, it could prove to be that this weapon in his arsenal is Swansea's best route to goal on Wednesday night.
If Swansea are to keep Sheffield Wednesday at bay on Wednesday, then Grimes needs to work hard when out of possession to ensure Barry Bannan is unable to maximise a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'key passes'.
The experienced Scot is averaging more key passes per game (1.7) than any other Sheffield Wednesday player this season and, if given the opportunity to create for the Owls forwards, Swansea could have their work cut out in order to come away with yet another clean sheet.
However, Swansea have been one of the best defensive teams in the league this season with Grimes shielding a stubborn backline with aplomb. If the captain can lead by example in the middle of the park then the Owls may find it hard to take a stride towards getting out of the bottom three.