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Swansea City
Posted by Max Hicks on 03/16/2012

After a recent article in The Sun newspaper showed that Swansea would be sixth in the table based on performances so far this calendar year, I began to wonder what a similar experiment might show.

Following the superb victory over Man City, I have put together a mini league table based solely on the three promoted teams results versus big six opposition. Here's what I found...

Needless to say, as the season is still ongoing, the number of games versus big six sides is different for each team. Swansea have played the most but are still top of the table, with double the wins over next closest QPR and the fewest losses.

(It's also worth pointing out that of the ten remaining games, for QPR six of them will be against big six sides in a close title race. Also, QPR have no more games left against any of the other teams caught in the relegation quagmire. Sparky's got his work cut out and no mistake).

To offset the discrepancy in the number of games played, I also calculated the teams Goals For Per Game (GFPG), Goals Against Per Game (GAPG) and Points Per Game (PPG); once again, Swansea comfortably lead all categories, with literally four times the points return of Norwich and twice that of QPR.

As things stand, the Swans are hitting a very respectable point-per-game versus the big boys; at the start of the season, a point-per-game clip would have given any of the promoted teams 38 points total and a chance of staying up. That Swansea have managed a point per game against the big six sides is remarkable, and makes the best statement yet about Swansea's legitimacy as a top flight team.

Having conducted this experiment, I couldn't help but wonder what the flipside would be - how these three promoted teams have fared against the weakest teams in the league. Looking at the table, the bottom five clubs have formed a relegation bracket of their own, with an eight point difference acting as a breakwater between the mid-table supremacists, and only four points separating the five relegation-threatened teams.

Of course, this is slightly unfair to QPR, as they presently are one of those five teams. However, since we'll be looking at points averages, the fact QPR's figures are based on a slightly smaller sampling of games shouldn't matter too much. Here's the table :

Interestingly, Swansea are not top here, but Norwich are instead, and by an impressive distance. Or is it impressive? Considering Norwich came dead last in the results table versus big six opposition and clear first in the 'weakest five' table, perhaps it would be fair to say they flatter to deceive, beating up the weaker teams whilst capitulating to the stronger. It's an understandable pattern, but considering the Swans own record versus weak teams is still very respectable, and their record against the league's biggest teams is fantastic, I feel the Swans can be justifiably proud of their Premier League performance so far.

Clearly, I am not the only one to think so, as Brendan's boys won the 'performance of the week award' for the display against Man City. It probably helped that Sir Alex Ferguson was on the judging panel, but nevertheless, it was a great result. When you can miss a penalty and force Roberto Mancini to make a tactical substitution with only half an hour gone, you must be doing something right.

On the subject of the penalty miss; I think it's probably a good thing. Not having missed a penalty in two years was a considerable rod for Scott Sinclair's back, and the fact he has finally missed will hopefully have taken a load of pressure off for future kicks. The fact it didn't cost the game probably helped, too.

Next up, a tricky away fixture against an in-form Fulham side. It's a real six-pointer, with Fulham sitting one place above the Swans only by virtue of goal difference. Predictions?

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Posted by Rory on 03/16/2012

The fact we are traveling to Craven Cottage makes this a difficult one. At home, they're a very different team, scoring absurd numbers of goals through Pogrebnyak and Dempsey. But, taking into account their loss at the death to Villa, and the fact the Swans' confidence has to be through the roof, we do have the momentum. I feel it might come down to who scores first. If we let them get one in early, I'm sure they'll recover their confidence and could somehow find a way to put up the bunches of goals they've been doing as of late. But the lads have to smell the chance of European football if they win; it's not a real chance this season, but being able to get close to fifth in their inaugural campaign has to fill them with desire. Plus, it might help to keep players from jumping to bigger clubs in the summer!

Yes, absolutely. I honestly believe European football is not out of the question for Swansea in the next 2-3 years, although (assuming the Swans survive relegation) they still have the 'difficult second season' to face. The Fulham game will be tricky though, as you say. Winning against Man City is an excellent buffer in case the Swans come away with nothing. M

Posted by Simon on 03/16/2012

Great blog! You've just proven what I've been thinking all season about our performances. We significantly raise our game when we play one of the top teams. A word of caution though, when we play the top teams next season (providing we don't get relegated!) they'll be a lot wiser about us. It will be a lot harder to repeat this feat. Assuming this, we'll definitely have to improve our performance against the weaker teams.

Yes, the danger of a second-season hangover is something that history does appear to bear out. A lot will depend on the Swans keeping the team together, and on the summer signings they will make to fortify for next term. Given Rogers track record for finding talent so far, I'm confident he'll make smart choices. If I can risk a little over-confidence, I would say the style Swansea play is so effective that it will still hurt teams even when they know what to expect. It's the same style so many of the better teams in Europe have adopted since the World Cup. One thing the players will need to develop is the savvy and the confidence in one-on-one situations to handle the aggressive pressing teams, because they are the ones to have had the most success against the Swans this year. M

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