The biggest disappointment of last season was our home form at the Liberty where we watched (either live or distanced!) eight teams leave the ground with maximum points and just ten victories for the Swans.
A total of thirty-five points were won at the Liberty which matched the total we achieved on the road – a total for away games that was the fourth best in the league and just eight points away from those achieved by the automatically promoted Leeds and West Brom.
The away form was a big improvement on the season before where Graham Potter’s side won just 23 points and were beaten 12 times compared to just 4 for Steve Cooper last season.
Now if we can translate that away form for last season (and that got off to a good start with a win at Preston last Saturday) to anything like real home form then a play off spot achieved in the last minute of last season will be turned into a constant battle for a top two position come the end of this one.
Potter’s side were beaten just four times at the Liberty the season before but (ironically) won less games than Steve Cooper at the Liberty (8 for Potter, 10 for Cooper) on the way to picking up the same number of points from home games. That now means that over the course of two seasons we have won just 18 of 46 league games at the Liberty and picked up 70 points from a total of 138.
Compare those stats to our three previous years in the Championship where (between 2008 and 2011) only 9 sides in total left the Liberty with maximum points and the Swans picked up 132 points from 207 with our promotion winning season alone seeing us pick up a division high that season of 50 points at the Liberty.
If we can start replicating that kind of form then the league table will look more comfortable this season than it has done at any point since our relegation just over two years ago.
The questions have to be asked as to why our form has been so patchy at best at the Liberty. We certainly tend to start games at home a little more cagey and nervous and quite often facing a team who seem happy to soak up any pressure that we may be putting on them. As the game evolves then the away side definitely becomes more confident that they can get a result and all too often we seem to have been caught out napping somewhere as the pressure seems to mount on us. Some of that was often put down to the crowd maybe getting a little on the back of the team but with football now behind closed doors if that was a thing it won’t be any more for a little while.
If you think back to those three years a little more than a decade ago then the Swans were different at home. We started quick with two good wingers and a midfield that moved the ball around quick and found the space that other sides didn’t want us to find. Indeed, in our promotion winning season, 55% of out Liberty goals were scored in the first half of games compared to last season where just 36% of our goals were scored.
We also managed to draw 14 first half blanks at the Liberty last season and scored just 27 goals in 23 games which included 8 goals in the first 3 games back in August last year. When you start considering all these stats you can clearly see why our home form let us down and why Steve Cooper needs to ensure this changes in the season ahead.
There is of course the debate around whether the lack of crowds can take away home advantage for any club but for any club that has serious ambitions of promotion then home form will be essential to ensure that you pick up a minimum of 45 points from these games (Leeds had 50 last season, Norwich and Sheffield United had 49 the season before) and that has to be a target for the Swans.
And we certainly should not be allowing one in three visitors here to leave South Wales with maximum points.
Fortress Liberty is a must
What do you think are the reasons for our relatively poor home form over the last couple of seasons? Why don’t you enter into the forum discussion on the topic here