The Newcastle United rollercoaster takes ride number 16 on Saturday with a little home number against Welsh outfit Swansea. The pair are separated by four Premier League places and nine points; NUFC having earned three more wins, three less defeats, scored five more goals and have conceded one less.
Swansea’s first taste of Premier League life is going very well thus far. Four wins and six draws makes pleasant reading for the top division newcomers. Add to that some pretty impressive football being played and a passing game as good as the Premiership’s elite, and as a ‘Swan’, you’d be a happy bunny…..or bird?!? The question for NUFC is, ‘What should they expect on Saturday?’
A defensive look:
The defensive data doesn’t read too well for Swansea when compared to Newcastle’s. Newcastle have been involved in a lot more aerial battles than Swansea and they currently win significantly more of them. NUFC have also been involved in many more tackles, again winning a higher percentage than the Welsh club. Defensively, the ‘Toon’ have produced less individual errors and less accounts of lost possession.
An attacking look:
In terms of playing on the front foot and looking after the ball, Swansea surpass the majority of the Premier League! Compared to Newcastle, they produce a considerably higher amount of passes on average per game and at a far healthier completion percentage.
They also manage more dribbles than NUFC and more successful crosses presently, leading to them manufacturing more scoring chances. However, the ‘Mighty Mags’ have put together more shots at goal than the Swans and have hit the target more consistently, scoring more goals. Moreover, thanks mainly to Demba Ba, NUFC have a slightly superior chance conversion rate than Swansea (15% to 12% respectively).
Swansea in the Premier League:
In the table for games away from home, Newcastle stand in very good stead as Swansea lay in a very lowly 20th position, yet to win a Premier League game outside of the Liberty Stadium; NUFC currently lay 6th. Along with Bolton, Swansea haven’t won a single point from a losing position this season and therefore don’t do very well when the opposition score first. They have also have failed to score in seven of their 15 PL games, the most in the division.
But, when it comes to the numbers for passing and possession, Swansea are up there with the best! They have the 3rd best possession rate in the league with 56.9%, as well as the 2nd best pass success rate; a staggering 85.9% being accurate. Furthermore, only Arsenal (506) and Man City (496) play more passes on average per game; 486 produced compared to NUFC’s 310.
On the lighter side for Newcastle again, Swansea win the least amount of aerial duels in the Premier League, just 5.2 a game, which is less than half of Newcastle’s 10.7 on average – fans will be pleased to hear the ‘Norwich-type threat’ shouldn’t rear its head on Saturday! Swansea have also scored the 2nd least amount of goals from open play, just seven; again less than half of the Geordies’ 16.
Finally, although Swansea have that fantastic possession record, they are the only team to spend less time in the opponents half than the black & whites (8% and 21%).
Mark Gower will be one of the main men for Newcastle to be weary of. Not a great deal of folk will know much of the Englishmen, but he lies in the top ten for assists in Premier League with fove and he’s 3rd in the entire Premier League for key passes after Gareth Bale and JUan Mata. Add to that the fact that he is 2nd for most crosses after Sebastian Larsson with 2.6, and NUFC have a very dangerous adversary.
Then there’s ex-Chelsea winger Scott Sinclair. He produces the 6th most shots at goal in the Premier League and with 3.7 per game on average, he’s the 3rd best successful dribbler in the league after David Hoilett and Victor Moses.
Ashley Williams plays the 3rd most passes on average per game after Mikel Arteta and Yaya Toure and Angel Rangel plays the 5th most, again highlighting Swansea’s strength on the ball. And, it’s further highlighted by the fact that the Swans have three players in top 10 for pass succession. Gary Monks, Joe Allen and Leon Britton; the latter having the best pass percentage in the whole of the top division – 94.2%.
So, what do the numbers tell us? Swansea should have their fair share of the ball, maybe even the ‘lion’s share’, but they tend not to do a great deal in the attacking 3rd with it, especially away from home. So, which ever centre half partnership Alan Pardew decides to throw in, they should be able to cope with Swansea’s shorter game.
Swansea’s defensive stats do not stand up to Newcastle United’s and the ‘North-East top dogs’ should be able to take advantage with the intelligence and pace they have. Furthermore, with Demba Ba firing well at the minute, he could prove the difference if the other boys in black and white provide good service to him, especially if they can get the first goal.
NUFC_Stats prediction: Newcastle United 2 – 0 Swansea