Tactics & Analysis

Average Positions: Carvahal’s First 3 Games vs Last 3 Games

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Here`s a quick look at Swansea City`s average positions map, comparing Carlos Carvalhal`s first three games in charge with his last 3 league games.

We have ignored the 0-0 draw at Huddersfield because we had Jordan Ayew sent off early on and it wouldn`t be a fair comparison.

Average positions help to basic, overall tactical view of a team, as it shows a players average position during a game based on their touches. Sometimes they can be misleading, particularly when two wingers, for example, switch positions in a game – this could lead to both players averaging a more central position.

As a guide, for those average positions in blue, the Swans are playing from right to left, and left to right for home games in red.

In Carvalhal`s first game at Watford, he surprised everyone with a 4-4-2 system, adopting four central midfielders, with Clucas and Sanches playing wide, but often cutting inside as the average positions map shows (top left).

Against Spurs at home, Carvalhal switched to a defensive back three, and aimed to pack the central area. Clucas played just in front of the back three, behind Sanches, Dyer and Carroll, with Ayew leading the line. Clucas` role was later changed, playing a more attacking role in midfield, which saw him score a brace in the 3-1 home win against Arsenal.

Away at Newcastle, Carvalhal went back to a back four, and you can see that we had four players averaging a position in the opposition`s half, compared to just one against Spurs.

McBurnie and Jordan Ayew were paired up top, with Carroll and Dyer offering width in front of the full backs.

Looking at Carvalhal`s last three league games in comparison, with Huddersfield left out, we see the same formation used throughout. Carvalhal moved away from his favoured 4-4-2, going for consistency and preferring the defensive cover that a back 3 / 5 offers.

The average positions map for the Brighton game is a bit all over the place for the reasons stated earlier. Carvalhal made early changes, he took Dyer off before the break and made two further subs early in the second half.

We were too open against Brighton and got punished for it, losing heavily 4-1 as Carvalhal tried to get his team back in the game after an early penalty. Olsson was clearly instructed to push forward, averaging a position similar to that of Nathan Dyer. Ki played higher up the pitch, just behind Jordan Ayew with Carroll and Clucas behind.

Against lesser opposition, Carvalhal is far more flexible and free to allow his side to push further up the pitch and attack, but it`s very much the opposite when we`re up against the likes of Spurs and Manchester United.

Against West Ham at home, like the trip to Newcastle, we had four players averaging positions in the opposition`s half. Like at Brighton, Ki played higher up the pitch, just behind Jordan Ayew.

Last weekend at Manchester United, Swansea were back in ultra-defensive mode, and you can see how much we had to cover on our right side. It`s not the first time we`ve had to either, with the likes of Spurs and Arsenal also targeting that side to attack.

Ki, number four, is almost in line with the back three, and no surprise had a poor game in such a defensive position.

In terms of average positions at least, the main comparisons have been about how players` roles have changed. Clucas and Ki being the main examples. The opposition also has a big impact, with Carvalhal always allowing more freedom when facing more beatable sides. Hopefully this will be the case again this weekend when we take on bottom side West Brom.

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