Match Analysis Part 2: Liverpool 2-3 Swansea City
We continue our Tactical Analysis of Swansea City`s superb win at Liverpool last Saturday, our first ever at Anfield which puts us out of the relegation zone and into 17th place.
Check out Part 1 here
Part 1 focused on Paul Clement`s balanced game plan, the defensive shape and the positional discipline of the players, and in Part 2 we`ll look at the impact the game plan had on our attacking game, and how we were able to still create and score 3 goals despite sitting in a deep 4-5-1 shape.
Swansea`s struggle to attack
It was a problem for the entire first half - creating chances and getting forward - we were sitting so deep, and with no out ball, it was difficult to start counter attacks and support lone striker Fernando Llorente.
We often won back possession deep in our own half, but we soon lost it because either - we simply had no attacking outlet, or Liverpool`s gegenpressing saw them win it back seconds later.
You can see below just how quick Liverpool are to close down and press collectively as a team, in an attempt to counter press and regain possession as quickly as possible.
But there were moments when Liverpool were unable to counter press, they didn`t have enough players in the right areas to do so, and this gave us some decent amount of space to create some attacking movement.
Like in the home game against Liverpool, the Swans broke quickly and as a group, with as many as four or five players sprinting forward in attacking support.
On the rare occasion that the Swans had a bit of space to build an attacking move from the back, they`d usually be in a 3421 shape or there-abouts, like the example below demonstrates.
Jack Cork drops deep in between the two centre backs to begin the move, while the two full backs push forward to make a 4-man "midfield-line" with Carroll and Fer in the centre. The two wide men in the front 3 - Sigurdsson and Routledge would push inside to offer link-up play options for lone striker Fernando Llorente. You can see below Swansea`s potentials to attacks down the flanks via the full backs, with Carroll and Sigurdsson able to link-up down the left.
As well as moving the ball wide, the Swans also looked to play direct, long passes down the middle, playing balls into one of the front 3 players in an attempt to create quick give-and-go`s to get in behind.
Swansea commit players forward in attack
Below, the Swans now have five players across the pitch in Liverpool`s half, as Cork plays a long, direct ball to Routledge, who attempts to play a first time pass to Llorente. You notice again how the two "wide-men" - Routledge and Sigurdsson, move right inside and closer to Llorente to allow them to link up with the striker, as the full backs push up to offer width.
Attacking channel runs and balls over the top
Another satisfying element of Swansea`s play was seeing players running into the channels, looking for through balls, plus players passing the ball to a player, and then instantly moving closer to that player to offer support. It may sound like the basics, but these sort of things have been missing from our game for too long now.
The screenshot below shows the build-up to Swansea`s best chance of the first half, as Sigurdsson and Olsson link-up down the left, as Carroll makes a run in behind and into the channel. Sigurdsson plays the ball through to him and the former Spurs man sees his cross deflect onto the post and out for a corner.
The screenshot below shows Fer doing the same and as he does so, Tom Carroll drops bacl to cover the space that Fer has left behind, so there were good rotations happening when in possession also, ensuring good balance and defensive cover in case they lost the ball.
There were times when the Swans did lose possession in Liverpool`s half, and knowing the speed at which Klopp`s side can break, they had to be quick to get back and organise themselves into a defensive shape again - as shown below:
Swansea`s first goal
Like they did in the home fixture, Swansea City opened the scoring from a corner, as Liverpool`s much-debated zonal marking system was massively exposed once again.
Fernandez wins the first ball as he`s about to do so (below), you can already see a huge area of space at the far post that Llorente is free to walk into.
As Fernandez`s header drops towards Routledge, who does a good job of blocking the defender closest to the goalkeeper, Llorente can easily poke the ball in through the legs of Routledge to put us 1-0 up.
It was a similar goal in some ways to Fer`s at the Liberty, Borja won the first ball that afternoon, and Fer poked it in from close range.
Swansea soon make it 2-0
The two new signings helped double our lead minutes later, as Tom Carroll and Martin Olsson linked up brilliantly down the left flank before Carroll delivered a perfect cross for Llorente to net with a bullet header.
The moves starts (below) with Carroll sending Olsson down the left wing. This was another great thing to see, a pass being played for a wide player to chase, rather than always passing into feet. A game or two ago, before Clement arrived, the full back wouldn`t be making a sprint down the flank. He`d receive a simple pass into feet before quickly returning it backwards.
However, here - the Swans show a bit of ambition and get in behind the full back - who initially has a head start on Olsson, but the former Norwich defender shows a quick turn of pace to get there first.
Above, rather cleverly, shows how Carroll followed Olsson`s run down the left flank, provided the overlap and sent in a superb cross for Llorente to finish. Fer was also there to meet the cross and you`d have fancied him to score had Llorente not made it. Notice also how the Swans get 4 vs 4 inside the box for the cross.
With a 2-goal lead, Swansea soon get back into their solid defensive shape, forcing Liverpool to find different ways to get through and create chances. In the first half, they didn`t manage a single shot on target, as Can missed a clear opportunity - heading over despite being offside which the assistant failed to flag.
Below, Swansea soon sit back in their 4-5-1 shape to try and frustrate the home side - just like they did in the first 45 minutes.
They also continue to have one central midfielder push forward and apply pressure when Liverpool are in possession near half way and are moving the ball sideways or backwards.
But as well as sitting deep, Clement also got his side to continue to press higher up the pitch when the ball was their first third of the pitch.
Liverpool make it 2-1
Liverpool quickly get a goal back and it was no surprise to see that it started with a long, diagonal pass to a full back.
The Swans mark up well in and around the box, with players near the penalty spot to pick up any loose balls, but Firmino - the goalscorer gains an advantage over Olsson by a slight push in the back that goes unnoticed. Olsson ends up on the deck as the forward heads the ball past Fabianski.
Liverpool make it 2-2 and you`d have fancied them to go on and win it with the momentum in their favour.
More so than the first, there was an element of doubt with the second as well, with a clear handball helped a Liverpool player to gain control of the ball before picking out Firmino inside the box. The forward (below) does brilliantly to control the ball with his chest, with his back to goal, before volleying the ball into the bottom corner.
Swansea score the winner
Swansea deserve great credit for showing the character and confidence to try and restore the lead, despite Liverpool quickly cancelling out their 2-goal lead. For a team seemingly with no confidence whatsoever, Clement has suddenly seen it return in abundance.
The Swans score their winner by playing the ball diagonally and forward into Llorente`s feet - this is something else that they`ve not done enough of this season, playing the ball forward as opposed to constantly playing the easy and safe sideways pass.
Above, Fer begins the move with a pass into Llorente, who passes straight back to Tom Carroll before the two defenders get a chance to tackle him.
Below, Carroll goes on jinxing run into the box, a Liverpool player (who was lucky to still on the pitch) tries to make an interception, but the ball drops kindly to Sigurdsson on the other side of the penalty area.
With the Liverpool defenders all ball-watching, they fail to pick up Sigurdsson, whose well-placed to slide the ball into the bottom-right corner of the net.
Swansea defend their lead
With a good 15-20 minutes still remaining, Liverpool had a decent amount of time to find another equaliser, but the Swans held firm, as the hosts weren`t able to create a great deal of chances, with one decent opportunity late on that saw the ball come back off the bar.
Swansea`s stubborn 4-5-1 shape continued to frustrate Liverpool as they struggled to find alternatives ways to break down the opposition. You can see below, that the player in possession is stuck for ideas. Again, two of the three midfielders in front of him are closely marked, the third will quickly be pressed by Tom Carroll. Routledge also cuts off the passing out wide, while a lobbed pass would allow time for the right back to move over and close down Milner.
Later on in the game, Liverpool scrap their wide-play, and try to go narrower by putting more players inside the penalty area.
The Reds look to play long balls into the box but the likes of Mawson and Fernandez did well in the air. Llorente also drops very deep to add defensive support, and you can also see Fer below dropping deeper to outnumber the five Red players in and around the edge of the box.
Again, Swansea still don`t give up their high press when Liverpool have the ball amongst the back four in their first third: