Match Analysis: Swansea City 2-0 Huddersfield Town
Detailed tactical match analysis as Swansea City`s first home win finally arrives as Tammy Abraham nets a brace in the 2-0 victory against newly promoted Huddersfield Town.
Paul Clement spoke after the game about how his decision to change the system was pretty much made straight after the defeat at West Ham two weeks prior. It`s been long overdue too, we`ve been crying out for a more attacking 4-3-3 with a bit more ambition and energy.
Swansea`s system change and the return of the high press
Our negative approach to home games has returned exactly what they deserved - zero points, but a far more energetic and hard-working performance on Saturday returned a solid, if not spectacular win against a side that you can`t help but feel will be struggling near the bottom of the table this season.
Within seven minutes of kick off, the Swans had already forced the opposition goalkeeper into a mistake, as his pass out was intercepted by Luciano Narsingh - who made his first League start of the season.
Swansea`s typical high press when the goalkeeper or either centre back are in possession can be seen below. Jordan Ayew and Tammy Abraham are supported by Tom Carroll - the midfielder given freedom to push forward, as the 4-3-3 system proved dynamic and flexible enough to morph somewhat into a variety of other systems, including 4-2-3-1 and 4-1-4-1. It even became a defensive 4-5-1 as Clement looked to maintain our 2-goal lead in the final 20 minutes or so.
Huddersfield persevered with playing out from the back, but Swansea continuously forced them into tight areas and were forced into long balls and inaccurate passes.
Swansea`s pressing was always in the faces of the Huddersfield back line, but the furthest 3 players in the press were always well positioned to stop the easiest passing routes.
Below, Swansea only have 3 players pressing while there`s 6 Huddersfield players in the picture including the goalkeeper, and yet they still have difficulty playing out from deep. Ayew was particularly excellent in getting to within touching distance as he closely pressed the opposition. Carroll is well placed to intercept passes to the two players near him, while Abraham cuts off the square pass to the other centre back.
Again, the Swans have 4 players pressing up against 6 for Huddersfield, but the press is well structured and organised to make life hard for the visitors.
This time it`s Narsingh who has a 'double job`, he`s well placed to cut off the pass to the wide player, and alternatively he can push forward and press the left centre back if he receives the ball. With Abraham and Carroll monitoring two players, and Ayew prepared to press too, the Swans had them covered throughout the game in their own half.
When Huddersfield got the ball further forward and into the middle third, Swansea still pressed, surrounding the player in possession from different angles, smothering them in the middle and winning the ball back quickly.
Below, the Swans dominate the central area, with 6 players vs 4 Huddersfield players in the shaded area as Fer wins the ball in his own half. With space in front of Leon Britton, Tom Carroll, Jordan Ayew and Tammy Abraham, you can see the counter attacking options ahead of them if they win the ball in these areas.
Huddersfield with their back to goal
Swansea`s pressing and midfield congestion meant that Huddersfield spent a lot of their time in possession with their back to goal, forced to move the ball backwards or wide.
Swansea`s attacking shape and new roles for full backs
Swansea`s new attacking shape saw different roles for the two full backs, who both benefited from the change.
Previously, the two full backs have been relied upon for getting forward and supplying attacking width, but the main problem with that has been the lack of support in front of them. They`re not unsupported when receiving the ball in attacking wide areas, but have been forced to pass backwards - resulting in the ball simply being recycled back and for into the same areas.
However, Naughton and Olsson could now operate in deeper positions when the team attacked, and rather than receiving balls, they were supplying balls to Narsingh and Ayew. The two wide midfielders - Carroll and Fer were also getting forward - meaning there were 3 players along the flank on occasions.
Early on in the game below, Naughton plays a long ball over the top for Narsingh to chase as the Swans now finally had the possibility of getting in behind defences.
Below, Naughton is in a deeper position than he probably would be, as Ayew takes up a wide position near the touchline as the full back feeds him a ball in behind the full back.
The screenshot above shows the flexibility that the 4-3-3 system brings in attack. Here, both the wide attackers - Narsingh and Ayew and moved inside to support Abraham, as the full backs now push forward - hugging the touchline. This provides the Swans with a 5-man attacking line essentially - much better than before when we severely lacking attacking support through the middle. It was usually disjointed with one of the front 2 players coming wide, and the other being completely isolated through the middle.
Support down the flanks is also shown below, rather than a full back having no support whatsoever going forward, there`s now three players out wide.
Swansea open the scoring
Swansea`s high pressing efforts are finally rewarded a few minutes before the break as Ayew is quick to close down the goalkeeper who he forces a poor pass. Carroll - the third player in the press can intercept before squaring to Abraham to finish from inside the box.
Swansea double their lead
Within minutes of the restart, the Swans double their lead when Narsingh made a quick inside run from a wide right position.
The ball is helped into Ayew`s path after a tackle on Narsingh as Abraham gets the last touch on the ball to net his second of the game.
Swansea continue their high press in second half
Swansea continued their high press for the first 15-20 minutes of the second half, before Huddersfield began to dominate possession as they looked to get back into the game.
Swansea also continue to work hard to press and smother Huddersfield in the middle third in an attempt to regain possession quickly and as high up the pitch as possible.
Swansea drop deeper into 4-5-1 shape
As Huddersfield continue their second half dominance, the Swans began to drop deeper for the final 15 minutes or so into a 4-5-1 defensive shape to see out the win.
The Swans also had one last chance late on to get a third goal, as Kyle Naughton again feeds a pass through and in behind the opposition`s midfield and defence, as both substitutes Ki and Dyer run in behind.
It was a well overdue win and one that saw us all breathe a sigh of relief, and while it wasn`t a spectacular and mouthwatering victory, hopefully it`ll prove to Paul Clement that a bit more ambition and positivity at home is needed to get results. 4-3-3 is also a system that needs to established now as our main formation of choice, as it looks to be best suited to our squad with good balance throughout.