Writer: Come On You Swans.com
Date:Wednesday December 25 2013
Swansea City narrowly lost a closely-fought 2-1 home defeat against an in-form Everton side managed by former manager Roberto Martinez. We provide analysis of key aspects and tactics of the game.
As expected, the game was won played mostly on the ground, with both sides preferring an attractive style of football, after all, Martinez was the man who brought that brand of football to the Liberty Stadium - and it's been the same ever since.
The Spaniard has quickly got his Toffees playing according to his passing philosophy and they knew a win would have probably seen them go into the top four, so it was obvious why many home fans anticipated the game as one of their toughest to date.
Everton's High Line of Pressure
From the first whistle, you could clearly see Everton's intentions and tactics. The Swans have struggled before against teams who play a high-pressure line - forcing the back four into mistakes in their own half - and this happened early on.
The below screenshot shows how the likes of Barkley, Miralles and Lukaku continually pushed up and pressured the Swansea defence high up the pitch, hoping to force them into mistakes and to punish them for it. They almost did on at least two occasions, but the home side either recovered or Everton's finishing let them down.
The screenshot also shows a large shaded area which was the large area of space that this sort of high line gave the hosts, but Everton's tactics and workrate was so organised and disciplined that any passes into this space were again pressured and so often the ball kept coming back to the defence.
Chico's Early Mistakes
Chico's lack of concentration and poor passes early on almost gifted Everton the lead, but luckily he was let off on two different occassions.
Below shows the Spanish centre back making a squared pass across to Williams - who's not even in the picture, and this allows Miralles to add pressure, force the mistake and quickly create an attack.
Chico made another mistake, below, as a simple forward pass towards de Guzman is easily intercepted, but again, the Swans were fortunate to not get punished for again, conceding possession in their own half.
There wasn't a great deal of attacking moments to discuss in what was an even first half that saw a lot of passing exchanges for both teams but very few clear cut chances on goal.
Everton mainly looked to pounce on any mistake the Swans made, while there were a number of factors that we've picked out that didn't help Swansea's attacking cause.
One of the problems for the Swans was their difficulty in getting Bony effectively involved in anything apart from holding up the ball, dropping deep as a passing option or clearing a cross from his own penalty area.
Below is a good example of the problem. The screenshot shows the end of an attacking move that started in their own half, as opposed to a quick counter-attack.
The move is made down the right flank, and de Guzman is near the far corner flag and crosses for Bony, who not for the first time, was outnumbered in the box and had little chance to win the aerial ball.
The screenshot below also shows the complete lack of attacking support through the middle. Hernandez and Shelvey are the only meaningful Swans players in the picture and they are probably more than 25 yards apart and can't contribute anything - meaning de Guzman has one option to aim for - the outnumbered Bony. The amount of space there is huge, and with Everton having a lack of midfield support, it's there to be exploited, but the Swans often completely lacked numbers in the final third.
Another screenshot below, shows Bony being outnumbered in the box, and also another poor cross into the area, as Routledge's effort sails over Bony's head and out for a goal kick.
Crossing has been a big problem for the Swans this season, and while the accuracy has been poor, it's not helped by having one player in the box being completely outnumbered. It's very likely that a cross is going to be easily won by one of a number of opposition defenders.
20 crosses were made by the home side against Everton, and the only 2 successful were the two made in the lead-up to Dwight Tiendalli's second half equaliser.
Wingers not playing as wingers
Another interesting point to look at in the game was the way Swansea City's two wingers - Pablo Hernandez and Wayne Routledge - were playing - all too often in front of each other.
Early on, it looked like it was Wayne Routledge playing as the lone striker as he was often ahead of Bony - who was very often dropping deep, with Routledge running on ahead.
Below, shows the two 'wingers' directly in line with each other, completely not acting as wingers or in Laudrup's system - wide-ish men. The picture also has lines to show Everton's disciplined lines of four, with ten of their eleven players in the shot. With Shelvey wide, and three players in front of Hernandez as forward options, the Swans were always going to find it difficult in breaking the opposition down.
It wasn't the first time that the wingers were directly in line or close to each other, below shows them interchanging passes together over on the right flank.
While neither of the two wingers were much good in the game, Routledge was arguably the worst. The amount of bad decisions he made, the poor final pass etc was starting to become frustrating and it wasn't a surprise to see him replaced by Roland Lamah - who stuck to his flank far more than he did.
Where the game was won/lost:
The game was one thanks to some brilliance from Everton, both their goals were from at least 25 yards out. Despite the superb strikes, the goal could have been avoided, Tremmel's positioning could be questioned on at least one, while Ben Davies committed a very reckless and needless foul to give Everton the opportunity for a direct free-kick - that won them the game with six minutes to play.
The game was a very close one, both sides looked very comfortably in possession, but Everton had that extra ability and class to edge back home with all three points. Unlike their opponents, Swansea didn't really look like scoring and their troubles going forward were rather worrying. You can see why away games suit Laudrup's side better, but at home, the likes of Canas and de Guzman sit far too deep and offer almost nothing in attack, leaving Bony and Shelvey lacking co-ordination and support to boost their hopes of scoring goals.
Away from home, the Swans can soak up pressure and look to catch out the hosts with counter attacks - a tactic that's always difficult to use at home when teams usually have 9-10 players behind the ball. Everton pushed up on the Swans and looked like the home team in the first half, but thankfully Laudrup got his team playing higher up after the break.
The first goal is where I'd question Tremmel's positioning the most. The German was beaten at his near post, and you wonder how the goalscorer got the ball past such a small gap - as the below image shows:
The key move was the winner, just 6 minutes from the end. Laudrup thought Everton had settled for a point, but a reckless and needless foul gave Barkley yet another opportunity to show his class and huge potential.
Comparing the two screenshots above shows how Barkley was able to gain a significant number of yards to take the kick. The top image also shows just how much Ben Davies' foul was not needed.
With a player in blue racing down towards the right flank, Davies came straight across him and completely took him out - aiming to eliminate the threat, but the Swans had more than enough cover to deal with any threat he posed - with Williams and his running line of cover shown.
You can't criticise Ben Davies too much in this case, as he performed really well, but it was just unfortunate that we couldn't see out the remaining 9 minutes or so to gain a point.
Was the scoreline a fair reflection on the game?
Everton will probably feel worthy of the three points as they looked much brighter on the attack, but a lot of the game was competed between the middle in the centre of the park, with both defences remaining solid throughout. However, Swansea didn't show a lot going forward and unfortunately they didn't look like scoring.
Match Analysis courtesy of Come On You Swans.com
Date:Wednesday December 25 2013
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