We are just days away from the start of the 2022-23 EFL Championship season. One of the Saturday afternoon kick-offs sees newly promoted Rotherham United host Swansea City at the New York Stadium. The hosts won automatic promotion from the 2021-22 EFL League One season, finishing second behind Wigan Athletic. This is their seventh consecutive season where they have alternated between the second and third tiers of the EFL system. Meanwhile, Swansea endured a disappointing campaign last season, finishing 15th after they reached the playoff final in the season prior to the last.
Rotherham United won promotion from the EFL League One in 2021-22 and will compete in the EFL Championship. They had, by far, the best defence in the season just gone by, conceding only 33 goals. For perspective, the next best teams let in 44 goals each (Wigan Athletic and MK Dons). This is also a whopping nine goals better than what xGA predicted. Ahead of the start of the season, Rotherham have relied on free transfers and incoming loans to reinforce their squad, which they hope will break their recent yo-yo status between the Championship and League One.
While Rotherham United’s defence overperformed on xGA, they underachieved in attack when taking into account xG and xA, scoring only 1.37 goals per 90 against an xG of 1.63. They attempted over 12 shots per 90 and hit 31% of them on target. The Millers completed the most crosses of any team last season in League One, with nearly 21 per 90. Adjusted for possession, they were spectacular defensively, successfully making 76 defensive actions per 90, 12 defensive duels per 90, 38 interceptions per 90 and nearly 87 recoveries per 90.
Swansea City ended the last campaign in 15th position, which was highly disappointing for them after they made the playoffs in 2020-21. Ahead of the start of the season, the Swans have signed Harry Darling from MK Dons, Joe Allen from Stoke City and Nathan Wood from Middlesbrough. However, they had to let go of their star midfielder, Flynn Downes, to West Ham United for €10.65 million. He was one of the main men responsible for Swansea City being a passing team last season. They completed 23,026 passes (or 463.2 per 90 on average). That is, at least, 2,311 more than eventual winners Fulham.
Being a passing team, Swansea City players created a lot of threats from set-pieces as well as from open play. In both scenarios, Matt Grimes was the leading threat creator for the team. With nine assists, Jamie Paterson was the leading assist provider for the team. More threat was created down the left flank compared to the middle and the right wing.
Both Rotherham United and Swansea City will be looking to start on a positive note with a win in their first game of the season. The main aim objective of the host by the end of the season will be to survive the drop. For the visitors, they will look to challenge for a top-half finish.