TALKING TACTICS: Tottenham Hotspur v Swans
27th February 2016
Ahead of Sunday's game against Tottenham Hotspur, we have teamed up with football stats experts WhoScored.com to preview the Premier League encounter.
A defeat to Southampton last time out brought an end to the Swans' four-game unbeaten run and they will be keen to bounce back against a Tottenham side that has perhaps underwhelmed on home turf in recent weeks.
The North London side have appeared suspect against sides that look to sit back and hit them on the counter attack, as highlighted in recent 1-0 defeats to Leicester City and Crystal Palace.
Provided Swansea can remain compact and wait for chances on the break, they could spring an upset at White Hart Lane to dent Tottenham's title chances in the process.
Having spent a frustrating two years at Spurs prior to his return to Swansea, Gylfi Sigurdsson will be keen to showcase his talents to his former employers in Sunday's Premier League fixture.
The Icelandic international looks to have rediscovered his best form following a disappointing start to the campaign, netting five league goals in his last seven appearances - only Sergio Aguero (7) and Jermain Defoe (6) have scored more Premier League goals this calendar year.
WhoScored.com man-of-the-match awards in recent meetings with West Brom and Crystal Palace highlight Sigurdsson's good form since the turn of the year, with his rating in 2016 (7.57) higher than any other Swansea player and among the best in England's top tier.
If he can maintain his good form, there is a strong possibility Swansea could sneak a positive result at White Hart Lane. The South Wales outfit are expected to be on the backfoot for much of the encounter, but can exploit any possible space left behind if Spurs commit men forward, much like Newcastle, Leicester and Crystal Palace have done this season.
Mauricio Pochettino's team has developed a statistically-calculated WhoScored.com weakness of 'stopping opponents from creating chances', which could hinder their hopes of winning. With Sigurdsson operating between the lines, Spurs need to keep him in check if they are to limit his offensive influence.
The 26-year-old has developed a strength of 'key passes', meaning if he's allowed to move freely between midfield and defence, he could hurt this Spurs side with the tightest defence in the Premier League.
With Mousa Dembele sidelined, this further increases the importance of Eric Dier in the middle of the park.
The England international has thrived in a more advanced position this term after impressing in defence in his debut campaign for Tottenham. The defensive shield he offers to the backline not only allows the wing-backs to push forward, but provides greater protection to the defence, particularly once he drops deeper to help deny the opposition.
Sigurdsson will have his work cut out in order to get the better of Dier, but his attacking ability and recent good form means he comes into the meeting with Spurs with high confidence.
If he can continue his fine performances when he travels back to White Hart Lane, and the Swansea defence remains resolute, Sigurdsson has a key role to play if the visitors are to stand a chance of coming away with a positive result.
*WhoScored.com is a unique website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Provided with unique stats, they compile and create comprehensive analysis on the major European divisions, including live match stats and player ratings. You can follow @WhoScored and their editorial assistant Ben McAleer on Twitter.
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