Talking Tactics | Swansea City v Southampton
It has felt like an age since Swansea City were last in action, with a number of postponements due to COVID-19 outbreaks meaning it will have been almost a month since the Swans last played a game when they take on Southampton in the FA Cup this weekend.
Ahead of the third-round tie, WhoScored.com preview the action, looking at what to expect from Saints, the key battle and a key stat.
What to expect from Southampton
Southampton's inability to turn draws into wins is denting their chances of a top-half league finish.
Indeed, no Premier League team has drawn more games than Saints (nine) this season. They have been solid enough on home turf, losing just the once at St. Mary's this season, but have underwhelmed away from home.
A 3-2 win at West Ham on Boxing Day was just their second league success on their travels, while only Norwich (23) have conceded more away goals (21) than Ralph Hasenhuttl's side in the Premier League this season.
Tactically, Hasenhuttl has remained loyal to a 4-4-2 setup. There is a battling midfield base of James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu that offers protection to the defence and allows the full-backs - usually Valentino Livramento and Kyle Walker-Peters - to push forward and overlap the wingers, although the pair will miss out in South Wales.
They are aggressive out of possession, averaging the second most fouls per game (12.1) in the Premier League this season, and are one of just five teams to have received multiple red cards in 2021-22.
We can expect Saints to adopt a similar approach for the trip to the Swansea.com Stadium on Saturday, even if personnel changes are on the cards. Moussa Djenepo is at the African Cup of Nations, while Mohammed Salisu is suspended following his red card against Tottenham at the end of 2021.
Even so, those coming into the XI will be aware of Hasenhuttl's demands and the desire to improve upon a fairly lacklustre away record.
The man hoping to capitalise upon Saints' away defensive record is Swansea top scorer Joel Piroe. Of the 12 goals the Dutchman has scored following his arrival, seven have come in south Wales, including a run of six in the last seven at the Swansea.com Stadium.
As is to be expected, Piroe has developed a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'finishing', a quality he'll look to showcase on Saturday.
Another summer mover will be out to stop Piroe from adding to his commendable goal return. Lyanco joined Saints from Italian side Torino last year, yet has struggled for regular game time under Hasenhuttl.
Indeed, the Brazilian has made just five starts for Saints on the back of his move, returning a WhoScored.com rating of just 6.62 in the process. Saints are yet to keep a clean sheet in this five games he has featured in from the outset, a record Piroe and Swansea will be out to extend.
Not only do Saints struggle to keep opponents out, but they have not made the most of their good periods of attacking play.
Despite creating opportunities and boasting players of real creativity, they have scored just 20 times in the league this season and have developed a statistically calculated WhoScored.com weakness of 'finishing scoring chances'.
As mentioned, they have no issue creating chances, actually making more key passes per game than the likes of Tottenham, Aston Villa and Leicester.
Ultimately, a chance conversion rate of just 8.1%, that the fourth lowest in the Premier League this season, has left Saints fans frustrated.
Those are frustrations Swansea will hope to be able to add to when they seek to pull off a third-round upset on Saturday evening.