Talking Tactics | Swansea City v West Brom
Football stats experts WhoScored identify defender Joe Rodon as a key man in Swansea City's Championship clash with West Brom at the Liberty Stadium.
Having battled to a 2-2 draw at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, Swansea City are back in south Wales and welcome the Championship leaders to the Liberty Stadium.
West Brom, though, come into the clash on the back of a surprise 1-0 home loss at the hands of Wigan, yet still sit one point above Leeds in the title race.
The they head to SA1 on a three-match away winning run, while they beat the Swans with ruthless efficiency in the reverse fixture last December.
Indeed, West Brom have earned at least four more away points (38) than any other Championship side this season; only two teams have scored more goals (28) and they have conceded fewer goals (14) than any other side on their travels in England's second tier this term.
Clearly, today's welcome of Slaven Bilic's side is going to be a tough one to navigate.
However, Swansea can call upon a decent home record with the Midlands outfit in their quest to make it four wins from their last seven in the league at the Liberty.
They have beaten West Brom in four of the last five meetings with the Baggies at the Liberty Stadium and Steve Cooper's side will be out to exact revenge for the 5-1 loss suffered at The Hawthorns.
It was a defeat that Joe Rodon missed through injury, but the 22-year-old is expected to start at the heart of the Swans backline today.
The young Welsh centre-back has earned a WhoScored.com rating of 6.87 in the Championship this season, that the fourth best of all Swansea players this season, and his return to full fitness is a significant boost for Cooper's team.
Swansea's goals conceded per league game record drops from 1.41 to 1.11 with Rodon featuring from the off, so it's clear his availability is a huge boost for the Swans.
And with Rodon ranking third of all Swansea players for clearances per 90 (5.9) this season, his proactive approach to defending is a positive for the team. Being in the right place at the right time to routinely clear the decks in defence is no easy feat, but it's a trait that comes naturally to Rodon who'll need to maintain this notable level of concentration to ensure West Brom are unable to extend their away winning run.
That means Rodon must do all he can to keep the club's top scorer Hal Robson-Kanu at bay and limit the goalscoring chances presented to the 30-year-old.
The Welshman has 10 league goals to his name this season, one of which came in the reverse fixture. Having had a direct hand in four goals across his last three league outings, which included a brace in West Brom's 3-0 win at Bristol City last month, Robson-Kanu is coming into the tie in good form.
Robson-Kanu has won just one WhoScored.com man-of-the-match award on the road this term, but that came in the aforementioned triumph at Ashton Gate, so will be confident of adding to that at the Liberty Stadium today.
Yet with Rodon in the XI, Swansea's chances of not only denying Robson-Kanu from scoring, but in coming away from the clash with a positive result, unquestionably rises.