After a 4-0 home win over Sunderland at the Liberty, Anthony Colangelo reflects on goalscorer Wilfried Bony performance via statistical analysis during the victory.
Swansea City had to draw on all their skill and ability to eventually run over a spirited Sunderland side 4-0 on Saturday and it was Wilfried Bony who played a key role in breaking down Gus Poyet’s tight first-half structure.
The Ivorian international was forced to battle for possession in an extremely crowded forward area of the pitch. His ability to hold up the ball for team-mates who needed an outlet when pressured was very impressive because of the way Sunderland set up in the area around where he receives the ball.
Michael Laudrup broke Swansea’s transfer record to sign Bony, mainly because of his prolific goal scoring record but his ability to hold up play and act as a target, due to his strength, touch and balance often goes unnoticed.
On Saturday, Bony operated quite centrally and high up the pitch, coming to meet his midfield and their passes when they needed to get rid of possession. When a player with his presence moves off the front line to accept a ball like this he will bring a defender with him, sometimes two, thus freeing up a midfielder. The graph shows where he received his passes.
The area circled shows how Bony acted as a focal point for his side's attacks throughout the game. Receiving the ball in this high central area gives his team-mates a target and the ability to play off him, which is shown by the number of short passes and flicks he gives in the image below.
Bony was forced to do this more against Sunderland because of the way his midfielders were stifled by Poyet’s side.
The image below shows in the first half the average areas where Sunderland’s forward and midfield players were most effective in their play. It displays how Poyet’s players set up to crowd and try to overrun Swansea in the midfield.
Laudrup also believed his players in the first half were too keen to get forward and therefore attributed to crowding the areas Bony likes to play in.
"Sometimes you can have too many upfront, you don’t attack better because you have 4 or 5 up there waiting for the ball," said the Great Dane.
Bony was brilliant in giving his midfielders an option in a dense midfield area of the pitch. This is shown by the fact the 24-year-old striker has averaged 17.6 passes this year in the Premier League, but he linked up more against the Black Cats with 25 in his 75-minute appearance.
The fact that Bony was able to help his midfield out so well in a game that was very crowded at times is impressive and shows how Swansea City’s number 10 can give his side more than just goals.