Monday, 5 January 2015

Stats: Montero excellent - should the Swans be eyeing another winger?

Josh Kilmister looks at how our wingers have fared this season

Any Swans fan will tell you that Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge have been essential in our rise over the last few years, especially after the departure of Scott Sinclair. However since suggestions they were both worthy of a place in the England setup their form has dipped and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. 

Dyer and Routledge both started the season excellently, and it was the goals they were scoring which had them on the Roy Hodgson’s shortlist. However, since then goals have been hard to come by from the two, and it’s not only that which has let them down. 

When Jefferson Montero got up and running in the squad, it didn’t take him long to make his position on the left flank his own, leaving Routledge in particular out in the cold. Montero – brought in by Garry ‘can’t attract signings’ Monk in the Summer – has very much taken the Premier League by storm, with his demolition of Arsenal and England full-back Callum Chambers springing to mind as a stand out performance. 

Now I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I think Jeff makes Dyer and Routledge look incredibly average. Sure, maybe the two have dropped form this season, or maybe the arrival of Montero has raised our expectations. The truth is, Montero is a much better footballer than anyone competing for his spot in our starting eleven, and he’s got the stats to prove it.

As a modern day winger, perhaps the most important attribute to your game is the ability to take on a full-back. This is something that Montero both loves to do and is capable of doing very, very well. 

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All stats sourced from

As shown above, Montero has the least minutes played out of our three main wingers, but has at least double the number of takeovers than anyone else in the squad, and with an impressive 53.06% success rate. That’s better than Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal and just 0.27% worse than England wonder kid Raheem Sterling! Of all the stats there I think the most impressive is the minutes he’s played. Montero has played nearly half the minutes of Routledge, yet has double the amount of take-ons. 

As much as that’s a brilliant stat for the Ecuadorian to have, it’s also very poor on behalf of our other wingers. With the pace that Nathan Dyer possesses he should be torturing left-backs every week, and it’s evident from watching him that he doesn’t utilise his speed enough. If I remember correctly, there were rumours that Dyer was asked to cut in more often when Laudrup was manager and this may well have had an impact on his game, but Monk’s coming up to his first anniversary as Swans manager now so that’s unlikely. 

As well as taking on the defence, a winger ultimately needs to be able to successfully deliver a ball into the box. In our case, we have a 6 foot tall powerhouse in Wilfried Bony (or Gomis at 6 ft ½) in the box, capable of making something out of a half decent ball in. 

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Dyer looked marginally better than Routledge in terms of running with the ball, but in terms of creating opportunities, he looks to have been our least successful winger this season. Routledge’s passing looks more promising than his running with the ball, however taking Montero’s game time into consideration, he again comes out on top. His number of key passes and chances created aren’t significantly less than Routledge’s, and he has three assists to the Englishman’s one, whilst Dyer’s contribution in minimal. 

You might be wondering why I added Gylfi into the mix here, but that’s simply to make a point. Although we have two strikers who would be more than capable of playing as target men, they don’t. Bony likes to drop back and have the ball played to his feet, whilst from what we’ve seen of Gomis it’s clear that he likes to make runs in and around the defence; these chances are set up nine times out of ten by the attacking midfielder, in our case Gyfi. The fact that our wingers don’t match him in assists isn’t an insult to them at all but more of a compliment to the way our team is set up, and how excellently we’ve adapted to having someone in that shadow striker role. 

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One thing that Montero might be accused of is perhaps not being getting enough shots away, and therefore isn’t as much of a goal scoring threat as our other two options – though I’m certain this will change once he’s back fit. The number of shots Routledge has had is pretty impressive for a winger; his shot accuracy, not so much. This isn’t necessarily a bad stat to have, as the old saying goes: “You don’t buy a ticket, you don’t win the raffle!” 

Surprisingly, Dyer has the highest shot accuracy in our squad so far this season, but a few of the twelve shots he’s had have been feeble to say the least; his pass to Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan on boxing day just one example. 

The point I’m trying to make here is, would we be within our rights to find a replacement for Dyer and/or Routledge? They’ve both been fantastic servants to the club and for that I will be eternally grateful, but I really think the signing of Montero has shown that perhaps there are players of a higher calibre out there that would be interested in joining us. 

Of course, there’s the likes of Mo Barrow and Marvin Emnes – who both played well against Tranmere – who are both yet to have a real chance in the league. With Montero injured, now is as good a chance as ever for them to stamp their name on the squad. 

Thanks to Josh for this latest piece, and it's very interesting to see how much Jeff has created with fewer minutes on the pitch. I for one can't wait to see him get back to full fitness. Should we be looking to bring in someone this January? If so, who? Get involved in the comment section below!