The FourFourTwo Preview: Southampton vs Swansea
Pleasing passers vs persistent pressers in meeting of the league’s ‘dark horses’.
Swansea have had a mixed start to the 2013/14 season. They’ve taken to European football like Swans to water, but their league form has so far been mixed. They’ve not been helped by a pretty tough opening batch of fixtures – they’ve already played and lost to Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal – but they’ll now be keen to starting climbing the league.
- Saints 2-0 Palace (Prem)
- Saints 2-0 Bristol City (LC)
- Liverpool 0-1 Saints (Prem)
- Saints 0-0 West Ham (Prem)
- Norwich 1-0 Saints (Prem)
- Swansea 1-0 St Gallen (EL)
- Birmingham 3-1 Swansea (LC)
- Palace 0-2 Swansea (Prem)
- Valencia 0-3 Swansea (EL)
- Swansea 2-2 Liverpool (Prem)
Michael Laudrup’s side will probably be carrying the burden of expectation for the first time this term, which may not sit too comfortably on their shoulders given the impressive fashion in which Southampton have started the season.
Saints will start the weekend in sixth place, thanks to back-to-back victories over Liverpool and Crystal Palace. The Hampshire side have conceded just twice in their opening six league matches – the joint best defensive record in the Premier League.
Swansea have doubts over Angel Rangel (ankle), Ashley Williams (ankle) and Pablo Hernandez (hamstring).
Southampton, meanwhile, are fit, willing and able.
Player to watch: Victor Wanyama (Southampton)
Swansea’s penchant for passing is well documented, and Southampton will need their recent recruit from Celtic to be on top form to stop the visitors knocking their ball around them like playground bullies. The Kenyan has settled in well on the south coast, with Pochettino’s side now no longer so reliant on Morgan Schneiderlin when it comes to midfield steel.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Swansea 0-0 Saints (Prem, Apr 13)
- Swansea 1-1 Saints (Prem, Nov 12)
- Saints 2-2 Swansea (Championship, Jan 09)
- Swansea 3-0 Saints (Championship, Oct 08)
- Saints 2-1 Swansea (Div 1, Mar 83)
Mauricio Pochettino and Laudrup have met just once before – a 0-0 draw at the Liberty Stadium back in April.
The pair also met three times during their spells in Spain. Laudrup's Mallorca had the upper hand twice, with Pochettino's Espanyol winning the other tie. Speaking ahead of that previous meeting, the Argentine made clear his admiration for the Swansea boss: “I’m very pleased and excited about meeting him and about playing against them, because they promote a style of football that’s very similar to ours. Hopefully we’ll see a good spectacle.”
Facts and figures
- There have only been seven goals scored in the six Premier League games involving Southampton in 2013/14; a league-low.
- Swansea have won their last two Premier League away matches – they have never won three away games in a row in the competition.
- Michu has created more goalscoring chances in the Premier League this season than any other player (15) - all of which have been from open play.
- Swansea have received more yellow cards than any other Premier League side in 2013/14 so far (15).
- Southampton have been given the fewest cards in the Premier League so far this season (5 yellow, 0 red), despite conceding the joint-most fouls (83).
- Saints have allowed their opponents just 14 shots on target in their six Premier League games so far this season; fewer than any other side.
- The next goal that Swansea score in the Premier League will be their 100th in the competition.
- Southampton have conceded just two goals in their six Premier League games this season and have kept three successive clean sheets in the competition.
- The Saints last kept four successive clean sheets in the Premier League back in September 2003.
- The Swans have kept two clean sheets in a row away from home – they have never kept three consecutive clean sheets on the road in the Premier League.
Southampton's defence to cancel out Swansea's attack. A genuinely entertaining 0-0.