As the chaotic struggle of this Premier League campaign’s conclusion nears, two clubs that are sitting at ease in their comfortable mid-table positions are Swansea and Southampton. Placed 9th and 12th respectively, both have no realistic chances of relegation this season, so the pressure, for the most part, is off.
Nonetheless, Saturday’s clash between the two at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium is set to be a tough encounter, the hosts are to hold onto the ball in their own Barcelona-esque way, while Southampton will aim to drive the ball up field and catch their Welsh counterparts on the break.
The result last time these two met, back in November, we were given a fairly uneventful 1-1 draw. No goals were witnessed in the game’s first half, after the break Morgan Schneiderlin livened up proceedings with less than half an hour to go, before Nathan Dyer hit home a leveller for Swansea just eight minutes later.
Form-wise, Southampton are by far playing better than Michael Laudrup’s Swans at present, the Saints are unbeaten out of their last five top-flight outings, with their biggest results being a dramatic 3-1 over Liverpool as well as a shock 2-1 victory against a visiting Chelsea at St Mary’s.
Swansea on the other hand, seem to have sat back after their historic League Cup title win over League Two’s Bradford City. The Liberty Stadium club have won just one game out of their last six, with their most recent clash ending in a 2-2 draw at Norwich.
Laudrup’s men have arguably had a tough fixtures list recently, with their most recent losses coming from Liverpool, West Brom, Arsenal and Tottenham - all of which are above the Swans in the league standings.
Rickie Lambert will be the biggest threat come Southampton’s trip to south Wales on Saturday afternoon, the 31-year-old has racked up 14 Premier League goals this seasons and is looking on top-form at the moment. Lambert’s 35th minute strike against Chelsea a few weeks back turned out to be a huge decider not just for the game’s result but also for Chelsea’s league standings in the run up to the season’s end.
An interesting statistic that may play in Swansea’s favour is that, if you look at their last three top-flight games, Southampton have emerged victorious providing they’ve enjoyed the majority of possession. They dominated during their wins over Chelsea and Liverpool yet they only had 45% of possession during their 1-1 draw against West Ham last time.
Those stats may not look all too worrying, but considering the style of football Swansea tend to play, especially at home, these could be reasons for Saints fans to be worried. Swansea have had the majority of possession out of their last six clashes, even in their losses against Tottenham and Arsenal back in March.
Taking those stats into account then, Swansea look set to dominate proceedings when it comes to possession on Saturday, and if Southampton tend to only win games they have enjoyed the majority of possession in, they could be in trouble.