Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Swansea is a crazy team

Browsing through my data, I came upon a really interesting observation: Swansea City is second in the league in time of possession. The tiny team from Wales has had more possession in its first three games (61%) than any team other than Chelsea, more than last season's leaders Arsenal and the Manchester duopoly. Obviously, it's a small sample and can be partly attributed to scheduling (playing Sunderland and Wigan at home), but they did play City on the road and had the ball 57% of the time.

But here's the crazy bit. Swansea have also been extraordinarily bad at creating and allowing chances given their very high possession. I mean, second from bottom of the league in both categories bad. If we normalized possession, giving both Swansea and their opponents 50% possession, Swansea would have the worst SOG differential in the league. And it's not even close, the next lowest would be Arsenal and they're a full standard deviation better than Swansea.

So what does this tell us? One thing is for sure, Swansea have decided to continue playing possession football in the top flight. This team is not going to sit back and absorb pressure a la Stoke. It might seem that this gameplan doesn't suit them though, as they are poor at creating chances from their possession. However, a lot of the bad statistics are the result of being crushed by Man City in the first game. It would be foolish to read too much into that, particularly since they have played a little better in subsequent games. Still, I would be interested to see how they would fare sitting back and playing more of a counter-attacking style. Their match at Arsenal this weekend might well be instructive.

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