Stats mean bugger all except that they kind of do at the same time. Top of the league is the stat that matters, most goals scored, only Leeds have conceded less, everything looks beautiful but when we look a little more into it then things don’t look quite as rosy.
First of all, goals. The Swans are top goal scorers with twelve from the opening six games but lay only twelfth in the league for the number of shots. Clinical finishing does get you far but it is a tall order to ask for your finishers to continue to take their chances better than the other frontmen to this extent over a whole season.And the chances are fairly consistent with other teams too. 8% of the Swans shots have come in the 6 yard box, (14th in league) 56% In the 18 yard box (8th in league) and 36% outside of box (15th in league) and so it isn’t that the Swans are cutting the opposition open to such an extent that we are enjoying ‘easier’ chances which skew the stats.
It has been a real joy to see the ‘Swansea Way’ return in some capacity over the last two season. The width is there for all to see, just 22% of our attacks are through the middle as 40% go down the left and 38% on the right, making the pitch as wide as possible. Our 52% possession stat is fine, especially after playing Derby and Leeds away from home (puts us 9th in league) but is a way off last season’s 56% (which finished 2nd in possession league stat).
The pass completion rate is also down from last season, Swans topped the table with 84% of all passes finding their man last campaign but currently lay 6th with 80.6%, again no issues here though.
Issues do kind of start to emerge when we add that we attempt the fewest long-balls (which obviously more likely to lose possession) and only Birmingham and Charlton have made less crosses (12 per game) than the Swans. Which is bizarre when 78% of attacks are out wide. The most striking issue is that only 26% of the Swans possession is in the opponents final third. (Reading, Forest & Fulham are only sides with less, each on 25%).
When we add all this together then we have a side who play a higher percentage of short passes than anyone else in the league, which tend to be in our own half and when we do push forward then we get into wide positions (but don’t cross)… still top of the league though!
From a stats point of view; don’t get too carried away. Leeds once again look the best side in the league (although they are the perfect example of why stats don’t always matter). Swans have got a real chance of a top six finish if they can improve as the season goes on but they simply can’t continue to top the scoring charts whilst not creating any more than an average amount of chances per game.