Date: 6th March 2018 at 10:22pm
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Detailed tactical match analysis as Swansea City return to winning ways with an emphatic 4-1 home win against fellow relegation rivals West Ham United.

It was a much needed three points against another close rival in the fight against the drop after a surprise hammering at Brighton last weekend.

It was a game that saw Carlos Carvalhal take the blame for, having gone too risky and bold with some early attacking substitutes that failed miserably to get back from a slim 1-0 deficit.

However, the Portuguese boss deserves credit for getting his team back on track quickly. His players lacked energy at Brighton, but they were the complete opposite against the Hammers. Their high energy levels and superb high pressing throughout the 90 minutes played a key role in getting such a convincing victory, their seventh consecutive home win that sees them go up to 13th in the table.

Swansea’s energy and high press

Swansea’s high press, led by the Duracell bunny that is Jordan Ayew, assisted by his brother Andre as well as Clucas and Ki, made it difficult for West Ham’s makeshift backline to bring the ball out and feed the midfielders.

The energy and press forced the visitors to continuously go long and direct, and these high balls were usually won by the likes of van der Hoorn, Mawson or Fernandez.

Having been so conservative and defensive under previous boss Paul Clement, who preferred his team to sit deeper in their own half, Carlos has given his players more license to race forward – whether with the ball or without.

You can see below how Andre Ayew quickly puts a West Ham defender under pressure, and with Jordan close to his nearest team-mate, he’s forced to kick aimlessly upfield.

The Swans maintained this energy level right through the game, even into the final few minutes despite the three points being absolutely guaranteed thanks to the 4-1 scoreline.

Below, Swansea win possession in West Ham’s half as the pressure forces them into a mistake, and this allows King to feed Ki through the middle but he blazed a shot over the bar.

West Ham were the complete opposite

West Ham’s energy levels and pressure were the complete opposite to ours. They were awful throughout the game, and apart from an early spell in the second half, that was soon halted by our third goal, they looked disinterested, tired and lacklustre.

You wondered if Moyes’ tactics were for his side to sit back, invite Swansea on to them and try to outnumber them and win possession to try and counter, but there was little desire to win possession in all areas of the pitch.

The below screenshot shows Andre Ayew receiving the long, low forward pass from Kyle Naughton, who was able to receive the ball in plenty of time and space. He also had Clucas along side him for support – again – in plenty of space.

Building from the back was also easy. Acres of space surrounded the likes of the back three and Andy King, who looked very solid in his holding role, with 90% passing accuracy in the game, but that’s not surprising given the lack of pressure he was under when in possession.

The Swansea players could almost walk with possession it was that easy at times. Below is a typical example with three Swansea players near the ball and not one West Ham player pushing forward and applying pressure.

It was the same story in the second half as well, as it was easy to play around West Ham and get the ball from defence and into midfield.

West Ham failed to learn anything at the break, as their first half problems continued right the way through the second half. Ki still had all the time in the world to pick a pass, and not only that, but he sometimes had two or three players – in space – to pass to, as the screenshots below demonstrate.

Compare that to the Swans when they had to win back possession in their own half. They battled away in groups of three and four to win possession back quickly.

Swansea’s attacking diamond

One of the most pleasing things to see during this 4-1 win was our attacking diamond. Four players in close proximately to each other playing through the middle.

Any regular reader of these analysis pieces will be aware of one of my main criticisms of Paul Clement’s tactics, and that was how our midfield would part through the middle, with midfielders moving out to the flanks and leaving huge space through the middle and an isolated, long frontman.

Below is an example from the Leicester game at home:

Above, you’ve got Carroll so wide he can almost hold hands with Olsson, Sanches is also wide and the distance between players is really poor.

Another frustration was our habit of crossing to usually one player in the box, with a number of others hanging back behind the crosser, see below:

And another example from the Bournemouth game:

Compare the above to the below, which was often our attacking setup, as Clucas and Andre Ayew, the two midfield wide-men in the 5-4-1 system, move inside to support the lone striker Jordan Ayew. The freedom of this role suited Andre, who always liked to move inside off the wing during his first spell at the Liberty.

This creates a useful attacking diamond through the middle, with five players in close proximity to each other, as you can include Andy King or sometimes a centre-back who act as the initial playmaker.

Swansea’s first half goals

Our opening goal was quite a simple one from the start. A throw-in the left-back possession. Olsson makes a run inside, of course it’s too easy for him to get past a player or two before feeding Andre on the edge of the box. He passes back to Ki, who cuts back in on his left before finding the bottom corner from 25 yards.

The second is an even easier one for van der Hoorn. The goals really did sum up West Ham – their performance and lack of effort.

The Dutchman easily gets in front of his marker – it was a mismatch from the start, and nods home to double our lead.

Swansea goals 3 and 4

Our third goal was another easy one from a corner. Andre Ayew loses his marker (Antonio – number 30) – again easily to win the first ball. His header is saved but the ball falls to King to tap in for 3-0, just a few minutes after the restart.

The fourth goal starts down the right flank. Andre Ayew, involved again, does well to hold the ball up before feeding it through to Naughton. The right back’s low, squared pass is blocked, but Andre makes a long run from wide, and in his attempt to win the loose ball, he’s tripped and the referee had no other option but to point to the spot. Jordan converts well.

West Ham score a consolation goal

It was disappointing to concede and not keep a clean sheet, as West Ham scored from a long in-direct free-kick. It was hardly surprising that their goal came in such fashion as that was their only method of attack all game.

Fernandez doesn’t win the aerial ball below, allowing Antonio (30) to control it, turn and take a shot past Fabianski.

Ayew brother’s touch-map

A special mention has to go towards the two Ayew brothers. Both were superb in slightly different ways. Jordan was less of a threat than he has been lately but he still played a crucial role, particularly in his harassing and pressing, forcing the mistakes and setting the benchmark for his team-mates to follow.

Jordan’s touch-map below shows how he got around the pitch with both defensive and offensive work. As a lone striker, his touches in and around the box is very poor, with the only one being his penalty goal, as he dropped deep very often to help create attacking moves and link up the play.

Andre Ayew played wide right in a 4-man midfield, but like Clucas, he was allowed to move inside and operate as a second striker, as his touch-map below shows. He was actually the player who saw more of the ball in and around the box.

Their combined touch-map below just shows our busy they were as a pairing.

It was by far our most convincing and professional win of the season, although I’m sure many would argue that the 3-1 victory over Arsenal would compete with that. But against West Ham we were brilliantly in control throughout, and at times we had a swagger with the ball that I haven’t seen in 3 seasons or more.


2 Replies to “Match Analysis: Swansea City 4-1 West Ham United”

  • Our midfield looked much better with King playing the anchor role. But he didn’t just sit in front of the back 3 but was much more advanced, always ready to support Ki and Clucas and with Andre Ayew playing further forward we had a good balance. Before King came in we had 3 midfielders who did not want and were not suited to playing defensively. It was great to see the high press again.

  • King was brilliant I thought, didn’t play quite as high as Ki but he helped to create with that attacking diamond in front of him, looked a far better option than Carroll.

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