With zero Premier League goals scored so far, Swansea's attack has justifiably come under some scrutiny. Newcomer Danny Graham has taken most of the flak, but is that fair? Interestingly, the statistics say no. One way to measure a striker's effectiveness (beyond goals) is to take a look at how many of his shots are at least on target. So far, although he hasn't scored, Graham has put 50% of his shots on target. To get some perspective, a random sampling of ten or so games from last season showed Manchester United's Javier Hernandez hit 59% accuracy, whilst a more humble comparison showed Blackpool's DJ Campbell struck 38% accuracy. Campbell scored 13 goals for Blackpool last season; I'm sure most Swans fans would be happy with a similar return from Graham. Although he hasn't scored yet, he is at least giving himself a good chance to do so every game. Of course, this statistic in itself might raise questions about the quality of shots on target, but that's a debate for another time.
One player who has escaped criticism in the goal debate is Scott Sinclair; last season's top scorer. I love Scotty as much as any Swans fan, so I was especially alarmed to find that so far, Sinclair has only put a woeful 12.5% of his shots on target. A little more precision from Sinclair certainly wouldn't hurt. Of course, Scott is double-teamed every game, so maybe it's no wonder he hasn't found it easy to get clean shots away.
The team's most accurate shooter so far is actually Stephen Dobbie with 60%. True to form, trigger-happy Dobbie is also the team's third most frequent shooter, which might be surprising given he has only started one game and has barely played 90 minutes collectively.
The centre of the park is where the ball is won and where attacking moves are set up via the transition game. Tackling and passing are our focus here, and it's a one man show. Leon Britton has attempted 167 passes over the first three games, and has completed a staggering 92.22% of them. In addition, his successful tackle rate of 75% is not just the best among midfield players, it's the best on the whole team. He isn't the team's most frequent tackler, however. You'd imagine the player putting the most tackles in would be a defender, or at least a muscular midfielder (i.e. Augustien). In fact, the player with the most attempted tackles is diminutive winger Nathan Dyer with a massive 23, five better than next best Stephen Caulker. How about that for effort? And he's not just enthusiastic, he's also effective, boasting the third best success rate in the tackle with 60.87%. No wonder he was the fan's player of the year last season.
Statistically, the art of defence is measured in tackles, clearances, interceptions and blocks. Swansea have posted two clean sheets in three games, and although goalkeeper Vorm has been brilliant, the defence have also played their part. So which of those players classed as defenders are the best performers? Loanee Stephen Caulker has attempted the most tackles with 18 in three games, achieving a reasonable 55.56% success rate along the way. Full back Angel Rangel is the most effective tackler across the back four, winning 64.29% of his tackles. Rangel is also the team's best pass interceptor (12 so far) and has the most clearances with 13. Not bad for a player mostly associated with the attacking game. I was surprised not to see Ash Williams name at the top of any of these categories, but he does at least lead the team in all-important blocks with five.
Lastly, we can't talk about the Swans defence without talking about passing, since the Swans like to build from the back. The best passer among the defence is technically Alan Tate with an incredible 95.45% completion rate. However, that is based on just one game. Among players who have featured more heavily, Stephen Caulker again leads the way with 86.36%. At the other end of the scale, Ash Williams 79.75% is a little suspect; it might not seem too bad, but that figure more or less equates to one in every five passes going awry. Not too comforting when you consider how turnovers caused by a centre back are more likely to produce direct scoring chances for the opposition. It would be a good idea for Swansea's full backs to stay back at the beginning of moves to offer safer passing options for Williams, who is also the team's second most frequent passer (Rangel is once again number one!).
Now we've taken a broad look at the team, let's recap and roll out a few other stats with some "awards":
Golden Boot (top scorer) : Best not to mention it...
Sniper (best shooting accuracy) : Stephen Dobbie
Midfield General (best overall passing and tackling) : Leon Britton
Tackle Factory (best combined attempts and success rate): Nathan Dyer
Brick Wall Award (blocks) : Ash Williams
Angel Interceptor* : Angel Rangel
* How would you like an obscure indie rock reference with your statistics?
Golden Hoof (most clearances) : Angel Rangel
Defender in Disguise : Nathan Dyer
Hard To Handle Award (player who has drawn the most free kicks) : Nathan Dyer & Scott Sinclair (9)
Chopper Harris Award (most free kicks conceded) : Ash Williams & Scott Sinclair (4)
Big Bad Wolf Award (most red cards) : None yet!
Little Bad Wolf Award (most bookings) : None yet!
Chivalry's Alive and Well Award (fewest cards collected and free kicks conceded) : Leon Britton
No surprises that Swansea's tricky wingers draw the most free kicks from the opposition. Also, it's fairly impressive that the team has yet to pick up any cards of either colour.
To finish off, here's my "performance index" for the team so far. The index is worked out using a secret formula which is too mundane to explain, but it is fair (or at least as fair as summing up a player's importance based purely on a numerical breakdown of the most basic aspects of his game can be...) :
Obviously, the players in the "cold" column are getting a bit of a raw deal this early on. They're simply the ones who have had the least statistical impact so far, but with three games played that's not saying too much yet. I'll be taking a regular look at how the Swans stack up statistically from now on, albeit more briefly. Stat fans, brace yourselves for future satisfaction.
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