CHAMPIONSHIP fan Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) oversees Tuesday night's action from the second-tier as Swansea take on QPR at the Liberty Stadium, picking out his best bets.
Swansea v QPR | Tuesday 11th February 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
There’s a full Championship fixture list this midweek and two sides that lost at the weekend have the chance to get back on track.
After making a strong start to the season, Swansea have somewhat petered out. Steve Cooper’s side sit in 9th place, four points from a play-off spot. It’s just one win in their last six and that came against a struggling Wigan side. Saturday’s defeat against Derby ended a run of five unbeaten at the Liberty Stadium.
QPR may already have little to play for. They chalked up the points early with a few muting a potential play-off challenge. However, they are now looking over their shoulder more than anything. Mark Warburton has a youngish squad with some exciting talent he’ll be hoping to nurture ahead of next season if they haven’t been poached.
Stats point to the tackle markets
To get a flavour for this, I was reviewing their weekend games on the excellent Stats Zone app and found a few interesting nuggets.
Firstly, the visitors were on the road on Saturday, losing 2-0 at Huddersfield. Despite having more possession than the Terriers, Dominic Ball racked up nine tackles (of 11 attempted), while Todd Kane had a 100% success-rate with five. Kane is likely to be in at right-back,, so it’s an area of the pitch to take a look at, especially up against Kyle Naughton and Wayne Routledge.
The Swans duo play a big part in the way they attack. 41% of attacks come down their left-hand side, which means the opposition right-back is pretty busy. In each of Swansea’s last five home games, Naughton has registered an attempt on the opposition goal. That’s rather unusual for a left-back, so 21/10 for a shot with Sky Bet looks rather big.
But back to Kane who has completed 2+ tackles in his last six games with 3+ at Reading, Brentford and Huddersfield. Plus he made three in the home win over Leeds. Only Sky Bet have prices at the time of writing. It’s 8/13 for 2+, while the 15/8 certainly appeals for 3+ tackles.
Ball also looks set for a busy night, as he tries to keep Conor Gallagher and George Byers quiet. His nine tackles against Huddersfield is a staggering amount and he does complete a hefty total of tackles. Earlier in the campaign, he made four at Millwall, three against Boro followed by five at Fulham. He’s made 18 in his last five – three on two occasions and that mammoth total a few days ago.
3+ tackles for Ball is 8/11 with Sky Bet and this has landed in seven of his appearances, while 4+ is 15/8 and 5+ is 4/1 for the more ambitious.
Swans Pressing High
Many will expect Swansea to dominate the ball on home soil and having a seasonal possession average of 52.5%. However, that might not be the case. Mark Warburton’s side sees plenty of the ball in their matches. The R’s average 52.9% possession in away games, so that battle for the ball will be an interesting one.
I noticed that in their defeat against Derby, the players who topped their tackling stats are usually high up the pitch. Matt Grimes and Wayne Routledge both completed three with Andre Ayew chipping in with two. That shows they harry opponents and try to win the ball back as high as possible. But up against a lively and mobile unit like QPR that could expose pockets of space if misjudging when to press.
Those three make up Swansea’s top four tackles based on averages this season with Jay Fulton completing the quartet. It’s no surprise that Sky Bet have Matt Grimes at 8/15 to complete 3+ tackles. It’s something he’s done in eight of the Swans last ten, and 18 times in total. The 5/4 on 4+ is plausible too.
Grimes offers that protection to Marc Guehi and Joe Rodon, but here could be up against Eberechi Eze, who likes to get on the ball and drive at opponents. The QPR youngster completed seven dribbles against Huddersfield!
Byers is the other player Sky Bet have priced up. 2+ is too short at 2/5, but 3+ at 5/4 does look a runner. He completed that many in 62 minutes of the reverse fixture at Loftus Road, while he made 6 against Charlton and 5 in the derby at Cardiff.
Those two in the middle of the park will have to keep Eze and Bright Osayi-Samuel quiet, so they could rack up the tackles.
Goals to flow
These two sides tend to play football that’s easy on the eye and there are usually plenty of chances. QPR games average 3.32 goals per game and Swansea 2.39, so that should mean it’s the attackers on top.
The R’s have only kept three clean sheets all season – only Luton (1) have fewer. While Swansea have managed nine with four here at the Liberty.
Both sides have similar Expected Goals (xG) tallies with Swansea 1.42 and QPR 1.53, so goals have to be considered.
Having watched back QPR’s defeat at Huddersfield, it’s fair to say that they failed to take their chances. It was goalless when Eze teed up Jordan Hugill, who fired wide. Then, Amos saw a shot from distance tipped over the bar, before Grant Hall headed a corner against the post.
Swansea’s defeat saw them pepper the Derby backline. They attempted 16 shots with seven testing Ben Hamer. Yan Dhanda scored and fired in another attempt, while Liverpool loanee Rhian Brewster had three tries at goal.
With plenty of flair players, goals look a fair bet. This is the third meeting between the sides this season, already 10 goals have been scored – QPR have six and Swansea four. Last month saw the R’s thump Swansea 5-1 in the FA Cup 3rd round.
Throw in last season’s meetings then and all four have seen at least three goals. Both Teams to Score and Over 2.5 Goals is evens with Bet365, but 11/10 with Sky Bet, so on the evidence at hand, it looks a fair bet.