Date: 2nd September 2016 at 9:50pm
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Part 2 of our tactical match analysis as Swansea City lose 2-1 at the champions Leicester City.

Click here for Part 1

Part 1 focused mainly on Swansea’s poor midfield shape, how Sigurdsson and Fer pushed forward and leaving Cork to try and manage two Leicester players in the middle third.

This trend continued in the second half, but thankfully we were more balanced when Sigurdsson was replaced by Ki Sung Yueng.

Guidolin was criticised by some for taking Sigurdsson off, but it had to be either him or Fer, and the former is still building up his fitness after his Euro 2016 campaign, and a lack of pre-season training with the squad.

Another problem for the Swans was how the two centre back were splitting wide. This is common in modern football, but a deep-lying midfielder drops in between them to add extra defensive cover in the centre.

Fernandez was often playing in the right back position, which allowed Kyle Naughton to push forward at right back. Jack Cork had to drop in the huge gap between Fernandez and Amat. But as we saw earlier, with Sigurdsson and Fer both playing a high line, this left huge gaps, allowing Leicester to get space in between the lines.

Swansea’s shape holding them back in possession

The Swans were never able to enjoy a decent passing spell because of their poor shape, and mainly due to the distance between Fer and Cork, as well as Sigurdsson and Llorente.

Sigurdsson didn’t play a single pass to Llorente, with only two passes going from the striker to the midfielder. This is a major problem that will need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

There were far too many moments in the game where Swansea players were stuck for passing options. This led to possession being conceded time and time again.

The above screenshot shows Sigurdsson in a deep role, under pressure from a Leicester player and his only passing option is Kyle Naughton, but he’s forced to play a long, aimless pass upfield.

A better, more functional midfield would be capable of switching the play and working it towards Fer and the space they have in that area of the field.

Above is a similar example. The distance is too big between the three central midfielders, Leroy Fer is moving away from Cork – his supposedly holding midfield partner, while Sigurdsson – the attacking midfielder is operating way back in his own half.

Below shows again, Fer moving away from the ball and distance betweem him and Jack Cork.

To help Swansea’s passing game below, Leroy Fer really needs to offer himself as a passing option in the space but he doesn’t. Jack Cork can’t because he’s in between the two splitting centre backs and he can’t leave Vardy alone in that sort of space.

We didn’t actually manage to capture one example where Fer and Cork played alongside each other, with Sigurdsson where he should be in his attacking role.

…but it wasn’t long before it was back to this?

Swansea’s disjointed and non-functioning midfield saw the defence’s shape also compromised, as the likes of Kyle Naughton had to move out of position to cover an unmarked Leicester player (below).

Llorente isolated and lack of link-up play

Fernando Llorente has also received criticism from some fans but there was absolutely no link-up play with him whatsoever. Sigurdsson, as said, didn’t play one single pass to the striker, mainly because the distance between him and the Spaniard was far too big.

Above you can see how it’s Sigurdsson and Cork playing deep, with Fer further forward, but this didn’t work as Llorente very rarely had anyone playing off him.

Improvements following Ki’s arrival

Swansea’s shape and balance did begin to improve when Ki replaced Sigurdsson. Ki and Cork played as holding midfielders, with one often dropping in between the two splitting centre backs and the other slightly further forward.

This finally gave Fer the freedom to play as an attacking midfielder, it later paid off as he got us the goal to give us a very slim chance of taking a very undeserved point from the game.

You can also see below how Llorente now had a player (Fer) he could link up with, as the Swans began to play mainly in Leicester’s half as they pushed for an equaliser.

The Swans still look very much like a work in progress. The midfield in particular isn’t functioning well enough, and Guidolin may want to re-think using Fer as a holding midfielder. I do wonder whether Fer was simply moving forward on his own wishes and was lacking discipline, or whether it was Guidolin’s instructions to do so.

Llorente also needs much better support, Sigurdsson has to be the player playing further forward off the lone striker. He’s not playing anything close to his standards and he should improve as his fitness will too. You also wonder if Ki can finally find some form, Britton is also due to return and so too is new striker Borja Baston. Plenty of work to be done and the international break actually came at the perfect time for us.

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