There has been a fair amount of talk this week about Swansea being out of form. The suggestion is that they have been playing badly, particularly widely owned attacking players like André Ayew and Bafétimbi Gomis. The former has been removed from 50,000 Fantasy Premier League teams so far this week and the latter from more than 80,000 teams.
Swansea are without a win in five matches, the same length of time Gomis has now gone without scoring. After bagging seven goals in the first four gameweeks, the Swans have only notched three times since. This blog post came about because I was interested in what clues the underlying statistics, plus the defensive strength of the opposition Swansea played, might reveal about their situation.
I charted Swansea’s Shots, Shots in the Box (SiB), Shots on Target (SoT) and Goals, plus the average number of Shots Conceded (OpAvSC), Shots in Box Conceded (OpAvSiBC), Shots on Target Conceded (OpAvSoTC) and Goals Conceded (OpAvGC) by each opposition team up to and including their game against Swansea. In Gameweek 1 this means Swansea’s offensive record matches the defensive record of their opponent, Chelsea, because both teams had been involved in just one game. By the time Swansea played Stoke City in Gameweek 9, the Potters had played eight other games so Swansea’s performance has less overall impact on the defensive statistics. Put another way, some divergence is to be expected between Swansea’s weekly offensive statistics (shown by the blue lines) and their opponents’ respective average defensive statistics (shown by the grey and black lines) as the season progresses.
What’s interesting from the chart is how Swansea’s underlying offensive performance roughly peaks and troughs with the defensive strength of their rivals. For example, against Everton in gameweek 6, Swansea’s Shots and Shots in Box tick up against a rival that had conceded more of them on average than Manchester United and Watford, the Swans’ opposition in Gameweeks 3 and 4 respectively. It is worth noting, however, that the up tick did not show up in Shots on Target or Goals scored.
As an owner of Ayew, the chart gives me some reassurance that fixture strength may have played a part in Swansea’s recent drop in goal production. However, last week’s game against Stoke is more concerning because all but one statistic – Shots – failed to move in the same direction as the opponent’s defensive form.
Next up for Swansea is Aston Villa. The Villains have not kept a clean sheet since the first day of the season. However, the underlying statistics were generally not as bad as I expected them to be and there are six teams in the league who have conceded more goals than them. The chart clearly shows performances away from home are worse in the first five weeks, although that pattern has broken down in the last four weeks. On average, Villa’s defence has conceded 1.4 Goals, 4.1 Shots on Target 7.2 Shots in the Box and 11.8 Shots per gameweek this season.
The data doesn’t provide much clear cut evidence to work with. Villa appear to be poor defensively, but not terrible, and Swansea’s play has roughly swung with fixtures – although the last game was worrying. Nevertheless, I think I’m tempted to give Ayew another game and then reassess.