With the early season yet to settle into a familiar pattern, it is 3rd versus 4th this weekend, but not the conventional teams you’d expect. Southampton travel to Wales to face Swansea City as both sides enjoy early season form.
Despite losing their unbeaten record last weekend against Chelsea, Swansea’s impressive performance at Stamford Bridge was a signal of how good their start to the season has been. With 3 points from 4 games, Garry Monk has enjoyed a great start to his permanent role as manager and a favourable run of fixtures could see more joy for the Swansea manager.
After the out-goings during the summer, Southampton have started their campaign very well and silenced the doubters who thought a year at the foot end of the table was on the cards. Last week’s 4-0 drubbing of Newcastle at St Mary’s saw the Saints move up to 7 points for the season and into 4th place. With Tottenham the only ‘big’ side Southampton face in the league until the end of November, the run of fixtures – just like Swansea’s – could see Ronald Koeman’s men stay near the top of the table.
Already looking one of the signings of the summer in his early season performances, last week was the first time this campaign that Sigurdsson didn’t have a direct involvement in a goal during a match – with 5 out of Swansea’s 6 goals in the league – all 6 if you include Wayne Routledge’s volley that came from a headed clearance of a Sigurdsson cross – the the result of an assist or goal for the Icelandic international.
His influence in the final third is the accurate passing – the advanced playmaker behind the striker often has a low passing accuracy due to attempting passes that are not on and forfeiting possession – Sigurdsson’s pass accuracy is 87.4% with 49% (73 out of 149 completed passes) going forwards. With this area of his game strong, it plays to the strengths and playing style of Swansea.
With the departure of Rickie Lambert leaving Southampton short in strikers in their squad, new manager Ronald Koeman brought his star forward from previous club Feyenoord. Pellè had excelled during his time in Holland with an incredible record of 50 goals in 57 league matches (55 in 66 in all competitions), but his career in his home country of Italy – a total of 21 goals in 106 appearances – had left reservations over whether Southampton’s number 9 could cope at this level.
The Italian striker currently has 4 goals in 5 matches though in the league and cup, and the physicality he has shown suggests will be threat against every team in the division. Winning 5.25 battles in the air on average per match, this is considerably more than the match average achieved by Rickie Lambert last season (1.76).
Having 3.3 shots per match so far this season, Pellè to score at any time against Swansea on Saturday is valued at 3.17 with Tailorbet.
Earlier in the week it was confirmed that Spanish defender Jordi Amat is ruled out for 6 weeks with a knee injury and is likely to be replaced by Argentina international Federico Fernandez. The only other issue for Swansea is the long term injury of Leon Britton with a knee injury.
Shane Long has recovered from a knock he received against Newcastle last weekend and is deemed fit to play. Summer signing Sadio Mane has received his work permit too late to feature this weekend, while Isgrove, Gallagher, and Rodriguez are still long-term absentees.
Only Diego Costa (7) has scored more goals than Graziano Pelle (3) this season.
Back him to score anytime against Swansea at 3.17 with Tailorbet here http://goo.gl/1aFXjo.
With both teams defying earlier expectations and sitting in the top 4 after good starts to the season, the match-up between Swansea and Southampton is expected to be filled with attractive football. However, as both are currently looking strong it is hard to see beyond a draw.