Match Analysis: Swansea City 3-2 Burnley
Detailed tactical match analysis as Swansea City continued their vastly improved run of form under Paul Clement - completing the league double over newly promoted Burnley.
It was arguably Swansea`s most complete performance since Clement arrived at the beginning of the year, a match that they should and would have won much more convincingly had the referee not made one of the worst decisions you`ll see shortly after Llorente`s stunning opener within the first 12 or so minutes.
Somehow, despite dominating possession with eventual stats of 71% - completing around 500 passes in 90 minutes, Dyche`s side found themselves in front on the hour mark. Our new found desire and character within the team saw us come back to get a fully deserved win, and it was again down to some real quality attacking football.
Dyche set up his Burnley side in the usual two banks of four, with Vokes playing off and behind striker Gray, but this system posed problems right from the start - which played into the hands of the home side.
Clement insisted on his team to play with good width, which meant instructing full debutant Luciano Narsingh to hug the right touchline. It was interesting to see the head coach constantly shouting instructions and making hand gestures, almost like a conductor as he told his side when to press and so on - particularly urging Narsingh to drop deep to receive the ball from Naughton - showing his frustration at times when he wasn`t. This played a big part in our opening goal, which we`ll get to shortly.
But firstly, Burnley`s problems with their deep-lying two (narrow) banks of four, which is shown below on the tactics board.
With Narsingh holding the width on the right, and Sigurdsson and Olsson alternating that duty on the opposite side, Burnley had great difficulty in dealing with this threat, and that was largely down to a lack of cover from midfield.
Boyd was pretty much useless at supporting his right full back, Barton was barely noticeable as the player supposedly sitting just in front of the centre backs, Hendrick too didn`t drop back to stop Fer from shifting out wide and running into the channel space, while Brady operating far too high up, leaving left back Ward trying to deal with both Narsingh and Naughton.
The tactics board also shows Fer`s movement wide to form trio down the right. Sigurdsson was able to move into a central position whenever Carroll was able to get forward to form a left-sided duo with Olsson.
When Burnley did get players back in support, they backed off, didn`t close down in the centre, and were also slow at times to react to runs in behind, as Olsson got himself into a great position inside the box.
Below, the space between the left back and centre back is far too great, allowing Fer to run straight through the channel. It was these sort of runs through into these spaces that have been so lacking under previous managers.
Fer was excellent throughout, and he is developing into the box to box midfielder that Clement wants him to be. He was strong in both boxes, which isn`t something we could have said about him before our third manager of the season came in.
Due to Burnley`s defensive setup, they had absolutely no width whatsoever, and their only method of attack was playing long balls over the top and in behind for Gray to chase after, but Mawson often had these covered with ease.
Swansea`s opening goal
The Swans converted their bright start and dominance into an early goal and it was down to the some of the things mentioned earlier in the analysis, Narsingh holding the width, and following orders from Clement who was close to him on the touchline to drop deep, while Fer was also in support - running through the channels to set up the first goal.
It was a stunning goal, you can think of it as being similar to the one at Liverpool when Carroll sent in a perfect cross for Llorente to power a header home.
About four minutes prior to the goal, you can see in the screenshot below - Paul Clement urging Narsingh to drop deeper to receive a pass from Naughton, it would have been difficult for the pair to link-up if they were too far apart.
Looking at the useful panned out shot below - showing Naughton`s long pass to Fer to start the move, you can see that this time - Narsingh has dropped deep from his original, more advanced position. This move allows Fer to drop in behind as Narsingh sends a Burnley full back with him and out of position.
Fer battles off Burnley`s recovering defenders before sending in a really powerful cross with plenty of pace, and it`s perfect for Llorente to bury it into the bottom right corner of the net.
Burnley penalty controversy
Swansea`s bright start and opening was quickly undone by complete and utter incompetence from the match officials, mainly the referee who gave the visitors a penalty even though their player clearly handled the ball following a corner.
Was he still hungover following his stag do earlier in the week? Because he was only yards away from the incident in question.
But before that, Swansea`s zonal marking at corners was something that could come into question at some point later this season (for the wrong reasons). The players simply lined up in two lines, across the 6-yard line and a few yards in front - as shown below.
As a result of the zonal marking, Burnley`s number 5 below is able to win a free header unmarked, which results in Fernandez heading the ball away for another corner that results in the penalty being given.
It may look like it might be Mawson`s arm that makes contact from the angle below, but the referee had a much better review from the opposite angle. How he got it wrong is anyone`s guess, but it again asks the question about introducing video replays and technology to avoid such costly errors such as these.
Jack Cork`s influence
Jack Cork had another excellent performance as dedicated defensive midfielder, sitting in front of the back four, and allowing Carroll and Fer the freedom to move forward in attacking support.
He received criticism earlier in the season for a poor run of performances, and I think it`s fair to say that he wasn`t convincing as a skipper nor as a regular starter, but he`s come on leaps and bounds thanks to the arrival of Clement and Makelele - the latter being the perfect mentor for Cork.
Cork was dynamic throughout the game, always on the moving and being in the right positions whether his team were in or out of possession. He was always offering a passing option to his team-mates, particularly when they were under pressure - as the screenshots below demonstrate.
Swansea`s player rotations and team balance
Other than the defence, one of the other main issues within the team was it`s lack of balance across the pitch. We couldn`t find a solution to the problem on the left side of midfield.
It`s understandable to everyone now I`m sure as to why Montero wasn`t a regular starter, and with Routledge and Barrow not really proving to be a solution in a 4-2-3-1 that lacked defensive cover, Guidolin at the time had to find a solution, to add better defensive stability - as well as ensuring that Gylfi Sigurdsson, our best attacking player, still had a role within the side.
We switched to a 4-3-3 system in the last few games under the Italian. I got the impression back then that some fans had knee-jerk reactions to whatever he decided to do, as he wasn`t favoured amongst some groups of supporters at the Liberty. Not playing our out and out wingers - Barrow and Montero together was criticised, and putting Sigurdsson on the left in a 4-3-3 was too.
But it`s a solution that has proven favourable by Clement, and he has stuck with it to much greater effect than the Italian. Sigurdsson always likes to cut in and be a threat through the middle, and this was always a problem early on in the season.
It`s solved now thanks to the arrivals of Martin Olsson and Tom Carroll, the two players that can fill the gap down the left when Sigurdsson moves inside.
Previously, Neil Taylor was never capable of doing this, and we didn`t have a left-sided midfielder like Carroll who could move out into those wide positions and link-up with a left back.
I`ve heard some co-commentators and pundits say that Gylfi Sigurdsson now has a free role under Clement, which isn`t strictly true - at all.
The rotations in this area helped to confuse Burnley, as their midfield players couldn`t quite work out who to mark at times. Sigurdsson would have to hold his left wing role and could only move inside when Carroll was in a position to support Olsson and provide an overlap.
Below, Sigurdsson holds his wide position and receives a long pass from Carroll, who`s still in his own half of the pitch.
Below, with Carroll central and offering a link-up option for Llorente, Sigurdsson has to again, keep to his left wing position.
Below, Sigurdsson now moves inside to support Llorente, as on the opposite side and out of the picture, Carroll has pushed up to join Olsson - allowing Sigurdsson the freedom to move into the middle.
Carroll`s moves out wide have been key so far, he`s sent in two fantastic crosses to set up goals since he`s been here, at Liverpool and then against Burnley to set up Llorente`s winner.
You can see above the pass combinations in the game, and Carroll - Olsson is by far the busiest with more than 50 passes being played between the pair.
Burnley take the lead
Completely against the run of play, Burnley take the lead as the Swans are caught out by a long ball to Vokes. With midfielders pushed up as we looked to re-take the lead, there was a lack of midfield cover when the long ball is played.
Below, as the ball is played in, on the far side, Fernandez and Naughton are having to mark three Burnley players, as two surround targetman Vokes.
Below, as Vokes wins the flick on against Fernandez, Gray simply has to walk back a few yards to get into space, probably confident that his team-mate will win the high ball. Naughton can`t get across to mark Gray, and the ball drops to him - with enough time to turn and shoot past Fabianski.
Swansea equalise 2-2
Swansea`s equalising goal was another excellent attacking move, with Olsson as a third-man runner - similar to the goal he scored against Leicester.
With Olsson and Carroll relatively close to one another, Sigurdsson can now move inside and occupy that space in between the lines, below.
Burnley players are again not applying any pressure on the ball, Carroll is in yards of space to play the pass, and Sigurdsson is also in yards of space to receive it. Olsson`s run is also not tracked, and Burnley`s two lines of four were too far apart if they were trying to contain us. It was neither a high press or two close banks of four.
Olsson is already on the move as Carroll plays the ball in, and this is clearly something that has been worked on the training ground, as Sigurdsson - with an excellent back-flick, knows where Olsson will be, he sends him through on goal and Olsson fires home.
Swansea`s winning goal
Our winning goal again involved Tom Carroll, in space again to send in a cross and Llorente finds space in between two defenders to head it back in the direction it came and into the net. The Spaniard continues to do what he does best, proving to be a master in the air. He told the press after the game that the fans are now starting to see the best of him, as he`s getting such quality deliveries into the box from his team-mates.
Below, five defenders in the box and none of them can stop Llorente heading in the winner. There might have been a case for a push from the striker, but they can`t have any complaints whatsoever after that penalty decision, not to mention their complete lack of involvement in the game from an attacking point of view. In fact, Sean Dyche`s comments after the game really were ridiculous.
A contrast of styles
The graphics below show a clear contrast of styles of play from both sides, as the pass maps show how busy they were in getting the ball into wide areas, while Burnley`s only hope of getting into the final third was via long balls from their own half.
Swansea averaged a cross into the box every two minutes, while Burnley (below) managed just 5 in the whole game, and 2 of those were corners, such was their severe lack of attacking potential and width in the game, plus their one-dimensional long-ball play.
Whilst watching the game, it was noticeable just how often and how easily our players were able to get past players, and the take-ons graphic is not surprising, below.
We had successful take-ons in all areas of the pitch, not just in wide areas.
Burnley, meanwhile, only managed 1 take-on out of 6 attempted: