Stoke and Swansea have very different, distinct and uncompromising styles. So there were no surprises in how the teams played. With Stoke having played in midweek and Swansea returning from a holiday in Tenerife, many were expecting the Jacks to get a good result.
Within the first two minutes Sinclair had a great chance to put Swansea ahead. Rangel played a lovely weighted pass for Dyer to latch onto and slide the ball to the penalty spot. However Sinclair could not control his shot and blazed it high and wide. Swansea failed to make a better chance than that for the rest of the half despite having most of the ball.
Stoke took the lead in the 23rd minute with Upson sending a powerful header past Tremmel from a corner. The advantage was doubled in the 38th minute with a trademark Stoke City set piece. A long throw from Shotton was met by the towering Peter Crouch who’s header slipped through the keeper’s hands. My instant reaction was ‘Oh that is just filthy’, mainly because both goals were totally against the run of play. For all Swansea’s great passing, all it took from Stoke was a throw-in to unlock the defence. Swansea had around 75% possession when they conceded the second goal.
During the second half Swansea had a good shout for a penalty and Caulker’s header was well saved by Begovic in injury time. Although clear chances were few and far between for both teams.
Although possession has a significant influence on the result, possession alone will not win games. Research has shown that higher numbers of shots and penalty area entries convert into greater scoring opportunities and goals. Both teams took 9 shots each and while Stoke had 8 shots from inside the box, Swansea only had 1 shot inside the box. Successful penalty area entries is an important part of success in football. Swansea had many opportunities to cross the ball, whether it be a high or a low ball in; but a lot of the play went back and across Stoke’s defence. Despite Swansea making three times as many passes (617 vs 194) and having 73.6% possession, Stoke still managed to put in more crosses. Many of Swansea’s corners in the second half were played short with Sigurdsson taking the corner or crossing it in from the pass; surely his height would be more useful in the box?
Also I have to be honest, I am a little sceptical about how this stat is worked out; but Stoke had 77 final third entries in comparison to Swansea’s 52. Considering the passing and possession stats for this game, I am at a loss to explain this stat. Swansea can do the hard work in the defensive and middle thirds, but the final third does need to be improved (Editors Note: A final third entry is when a ball is played into the final third, and not when a player enters it).
Some might say Stoke were lucky to win, others will argue they simply created more opportunities giving them better chances to score. ‘Chance’ seems to be the operative word in this case.
Swansea’s away form really does need to improve, but is that in some way comforting for Swansea fans – knowing that they are playing well, with room for improvement to take them on to another level?
- Good Read