Date: 6th March 2019 at 9:11pm
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Swansea City got back to winning ways on Saturday at home, beating Bolton Wanderers 2-0 but not everybody left the Liberty Stadium overly happy or impressed with the victory.

Personally, I’m happy with a win after some poor results and performances of late. We lost badly at Sheffield Wednesday the week before after a disastrous first half that saw us go 3-0 down at the break.

Before the 4-1 win against Brentford in the FA Cup, we lost at Leeds and Bristol City with a narrow 1-0 home win against Millwall in between. That Millwall game was similar to the 2-0 victory over Bolton in that it was an uninspiring performance that wouldn’t live particularly long in any Swansea fan’s memory.

The performance on Saturday was a poor one, there’s no disputing that. Our tempo and movement in possession has been lacking – you could say all season but particularly in recent weeks. There was a lack of urgency to get the ball forward and into more dangerous positions in the final third with a common theme of playing safe rather than risking a loss of possession by aiming balls in behind the opposition’s defence.

What added to some fans’ frustrations, despite the three points, was the fact that we were playing a poor Bolton Wanderers side who came to sit inside their own half and ‘park the bus’. In addition to that, they had a player sent off after 43 minutes and another 30 minutes later. 7 minutes after Wheater was shown a second yellow, Oli McBurnie finally broke the deadlock with ten minutes to play.

As a result of Bolton’s defensive approach which was effective in blocking the space to work passes through, Swansea were able to push higher up the pitch than usual as the pass map below shows:

Swansea City attempted well over 700 passes in the game with 91% accuracy but it’s always worth looking at passes in more detail. Sideways passes across the defensive line should always be completed against a side that sits back rather than press high.

Was the bulk of Swansea City’s passes played forwards or sideways during the game? The pass radar maps below show a big contrast in both side’s passing styles.

The majority of Swansea’s passes were played sideways with very high accuracy. It should also be highlighted that there were more forward passes than backwards passes. Bolton, meanwhile, sat deep and played long and direct but were unsuccessful as they lacked an outlet. In the radars below, the green shows the successful passes compared to the full bar (all passes attempted in this direction).

It could have been oh so different had Oli McBurnie put his penalty away near the half-hour mark but it was a poor spot kick that the goalkeeper saved down low to his right. The win would surely have been safe had we’d gone a goal in front against ten men as Bolton lacked the attacking quality that Birmingham City had which allowed them to reverse a 1-0 lead with ten men at the Liberty.

We had to wait a while but the goal did finally come and McBurnie did redeem himself following his penalty miss. Not only that, but he played in a more number ten role with James and later Routledge playing beyond him through the centre. In doing so, he helped create six chances for the Swans, more so than any other player on the pitch.

Matt Grimes was also the busiest player during the game when it comes to passes with 124 attempted and 115 successful. He was also the first player to make 50 successful passes into the final third of the pitch in a single Championship match this season.

A win is a win, three points is three points but the performance was lacking, to say the least and we’ll need to show a improvement on Friday night if we want to get anything away at league leaders Norwich City.

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