1.Vorm distribution is key
Goalkeeper Vorm has been one of his side’s big hitters in their impressive start to the season. In goal he has been superb (4 clean sheets in his last 6) although he was actually signed because of his distribution capability and is crucial to Swansea’s game plan of playing the ball out from the back and dominating possession. They hold onto the ball better than anyone in the top flight; thus far posting possession retention of 85%. In midfield their passing is particularly slick with Leon Britton earlier this season managing 100% pass completion in the Fulham game from his 67 passes – the most by a Premier League player for six seasons. In Gower they have a player with incision and he has so far pulled in 5 assists from the 2.8 chances he has created per game.
2.Our wide players will need to push on
As noted above, the Swans will pass us to death if we give them the opportunity. We will need to keep pressure on them and not allow Vorm to play the ball out to his fullbacks – Cahill and Saha will need to press and close off the angles to Angel in particular who is a fullback with superb distribution. Whoever we select in the wide areas (most likely Drenthe right/Osman left) they will need to push on and cut out the feed to the midfield.
Swansea spend the lowest proportion of time (18%) in the opposition half in away games in the league whilst we spend the most time in the visitors half (30%) so expect most of the game to be played in Swansea’s area of the pitch. The visitors will sit deep and there will be minimal room in behind so if Coleman is fit I wouldn’t expect him to be deployed to the right mid slot (although right back would be ideal for this fixture). As the Swans tend to sit deep they will often dominate the ball but not over commit bodies in forward areas. The Chalkboard (above) from their game at the weekend against Newcastle shows that they have a lot of the ball but there is hardly any penetration into the Geordies final third.
Let me first state that I am no fan of long ball football. Let me also state that I am no fan of the bungling Steve Kean. However, Swansea’s weakness is clearly in the air – they have won only 5.4 aerial duels per game (lowest in league) whilst Everton win almost treble that with 13.3. This was clearly something Blackburn targeted as despite having just 32% of the ball, Rovers triumphed by putting 4 past the Swans with the crucial factor being the aerial bombardment – winning 73% of aerial’s against Swansea’s 27% . Moyes has shown in the past that he is a pragmatist and will pick a team he feels gives us the best chance of winning the game so our best aerial players will be on show – so don’t expect Cahill to be dropped and potentially Distin will come in for Neville with Heitinga pushing into midfield.
The Norwich game showed the impact Royston Drenthe can have on the Blues – he is simply the most effective player we have in the squad and his pace, direct shooting and intensity will be paramount against Swansea. Moyes is a coach who will ask more from players than simply being able to offer going forward – they will also need to put in a shift going the other way. In a 4-2-3-1 were the midfield roles are delineated and you have 2 defensive mids such as Heitinga and Felaini who will concentrate on protecting the back four and winning the ball back this mitigates the risk of Rosyton not tracking back. With the way the defence is setup on the flanks i.e Baines playing as a wing back and Hibbert holding – it’s probably best that the Dutchman lines up on the right.
Swansea are a quality side and good to watch but they are beatable. They have posted the fewest away points so far (3/24) whilst nobody has scored fewer goals (6) on their travels as them. I don’t see it being a very high scoring game and we will spend long periods chasing the ball so patience will be required. I’d say 1-0 to the Blues.