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Swansea City AFC | Building from the back

Will a strong defence and a good home record keep Swansea City in the Premier League beyond this season?

First things first Swansea City had a great season last season, finishing in 3rd place in the Coca Cola Championship, just missing out on automatic promotion. Swansea City were un-fancied for promotion but managed to do so via the play off with their free flowing and brilliant attacking football. For a team very well known for their attacking football and very well liked for the style in which they play. They are renowned for this but they were actually the team who conceded the second least amount of goals in the league, behind QPR who, despite a late stumble stormed to the Premier League. Swansea City only conceded 11 goals at home in the Championship, but with what is arguably a massive step up from Championship to Premier League how will the Swansea defence cope after they performed brilliantly in their play-off promotion success of last season?

Swansea city’s home record, as shown, was a brilliant one which was a huge part to their success. Brendon Rodgers’ team knew that a great home record was at the heart of a great season and that’s exactly what happened.

A very impressive record of almost 2 goals a game and a win percentage of just over 65% and a very notable lose percentage of just over 13%. But it’s the record of just 11 goals conceded at home which has evidently been integral in their push to the Premier League with their fantastic home record.

What has been the main source behind this great record? Well the centre back defensive partnership between Ashley Williams and captain Garry Monk has been brilliant since Williams’ arrival at the club in 2008, forming a partnership which saw them gain promotion back to the Championship. They continued that through to 2010-2011, but injuries to skipper Monk meant that Alan Tate moved from his favoured left back position to deputise along Williams. The Monk Williams partnership was fantastic through to January last season until Monk’s injury, proving a massive part in the promotion and when injured Tate proved an excellent replacement for Monk.

The whole defence has been magnificent, but Ashley Williams has been at the heart of the fantastically strong defence, being named in the PFA Championship Team of the year for the second successive season, playing almost every single minute of the 2010-2011 Coca-Cola Championship, notching 3 goals in the process.

With a great defence and a great home record ultimately being the integral reason behind their promotion, can their defence cope in the Premier League and secondly will a good home record keep them up?

I have compared the relegated teams home record’s from the last 3 Premier League seasons and to see whether it was their poor home form which led them to relegation.

As shown above, all 3 relegated team had a poor home record. They all had negative goal differences, and conceded a large amount of goals at home. Birmingham City only conceded 22, but were low scorers at St Andrews with just 19. Blackpool and West Ham managed just 20 points at home, where for Blackpool many thought they would get the majority of their points.

I’ve also looked at the team that managed to stay up that year, Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Unlike the relegated team they didn’t have a negative goal difference and were able to pick up 28 points at home, 8 more than Blackpool and West Ham.

All 3 relegated teams lost more games than they won at home. Whereas Wolves managed more wins than defeats.

The year before in the 2009-10 season, all 3 relegated teams again had a poor home record. None of the teams had a positive goal difference and none of them managed above 25 goals scored at home.

The team that managed to stay up that year was West Ham United, who did manage to hit 30 goals at home that season but only totalled 26points at home that year the same as Burnley, but they managed to lose 5 less games away from home than Burnley which ultimately kept them up. Any other season, where the benchmark is usually 40points to survive relegation, West Ham would have found themselves going down but for such poor form from the bottom three.

Again all 3 relegated teams lost more games than they won at home and West Ham managed the same amount of defeats to wins.

Again in the 2008-09 season the three relegated teams all had a negative goal difference at home and managed more defeats than wins at home.

However the team that survived that year had the WORST home record that season, but the 8th best away record, which included away wins at Tottenham and Arsenal and draws away at Chelsea and Liverpool.

The above has shown that primarily on the whole across the last 3 season the relegated teams in the Premier League have had poor home records and this has been integral in their downfall. Yes obviously if teams are having poor home records but good away records they may stay up, as in 2008-9 in Hull City’s case, but it’s a mean feat if you are to stay up in the Premier League based on your away record, getting points away at places such as Old Trafford, Anfield or Stamford Bridge.

So surely, as shown above, the key to success and ultimately survival in the Premier League is to perform well at home and have a good home record, because points away from home against the big boys is by no means easy. Swansea City had a fantastic home record, with the best defence at home in the league and the best home record in the league. If Swansea City can carry this form into the Premier League and ‘shut up shop’ at home, they will give themselves a massive boost for survival, with the likes of Scott Sinclair and now Danny Graham giving them a massive chance for goals.

Chris Ellis
Chris Ellis
A huge football fan. Love Aston Villa and the free flowing football of Swansea City FC. Father of one to my son Harry and have a beautiful wife to be Rebecca.
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