Talking Tactics: Too Much Focus On Wide Play
Swansea City will give Paul Clement their backing going into the January transfer window according to local reports this weekend, so rather than looking at trying to benefit from the 'new manager effect' that the likes of Crystal Palace, West Brom and West Brom are hoping for, we need to find other ways to improve to ensure that we're not out of reach by the time the January transfer window opens in the New Year.
One major frustration for me all season has been our over reliance of using the flanks to try and get forward and attack. We're constantly trying one way of attacking and that is to get the ball wide to send in crosses.
This worked last season because we had a striker like Llorente who was superb in the air as well as Sigurdsson to send crosses into him from deadball situations, but our current strikeforce are not best suited to these methods.
Not only that, but we're no longer sending in good crosses for whatever reason.
I know what you're thinking at this point, 'But this is how we scored at Stoke on Saturday!'. Yes, but that was one good cross in hundreds of previously failed crosses before it. On that average, we might score another similar goal from a full back cross next March maybe.
Before Bony came back fit recently, we were constantly trying to put in crosses for Ayew and Abraham, and that's just not playing to their strengths at all.
But not only that, this obsession and limited one method of attack is causing problems through the middle that I've written in most of match analysis features this season.
Clement has recently switched to a diamond, having previous used a 4-3-3. The two wide midfielders, whether as part of a flat three in a 4-3-3 or in a diamond, are moving out very wide to support the attacking full backs. The deep-lying midfielder tends to stay deep as defensive cover. And despite the diamond system featuring a central attacking midfielder, we're still lacking that support behind the two strikers. Sanches has played there recently but he drifts too wide, while Ayew was completely ineffective at Stoke despite being more central.
The tactics board below shows a typical example of Swansea City getting forward with the ball in the opposition's half. Clucas and Fer - the wide midfielders - move wide to help their full backs - creating a large area of space through the middle. This allows the opposition at least a man advantage through the middle that Bony and Abraham will struggle against.
This was also evident through the goalless draw at home against AFC Bournemouth as we can see here:
Ki and Sanches are wide in the example above, and the Swans can't find a way to get the ball into the middle.
With Wilfried Bony coming back into the team and performing consistently well, we've got to be looking to get the ball into his feet and in central positions far more often - and have an attacking midfielder playing within close proximity to him. You'd want a player there with a good eye for a quick forward pass - I'd like to see Ki there - who could try to feed balls through for Abraham. We have two good strikers who are better with the ball at their feet and we've got to start playing to their strengths now, rather than playing the ball wide, and the full backs sending in poor crosses where 19 out of 20 are simply headed clear by the opposition.