Swansea City 4-0 Sampdoria
Swansea City rounded off their pre-season preparations with an emphatic victory over Italian Serie A side Sampdoria at the Liberty Stadium.
Paul Clement hasn`t been too happy with his side`s previous outings this Summer, but he couldn`t have any complaints with what he saw this afternoon, as his side controlled the game against the Italians – keeping a clean sheet in the process.
The head coach aimed for his side to “set the tone” at home, as he looks for his team to maintain their improving home record – having only lost twice last season under his guidance.
With the Premier League 2017/18 season just 7 days away, Clement was expected to name his strongest side, the one he`ll likely go with when they travel to Southampton next Saturday.
He has tried and tested his two main formations, 4-3-3 and 4-3-1-2 – and he began with the latter this afternoon. Without Sigurdsson once again, he had to make some decisions in midfield – mainly who was going to play the attacking role between the established front two of Abraham and Ayew, as well as who plays in the midfield three.
With Leon Britton and Roque Mesa yet to be used in the same team so far this Summer, it was likely that only one will start today as well as at Southamton – as Clement identifies the pair of them as being the central and deep lying midfielder. Today he opted for Leon Britton, who sat in the middle with Tom Carroll to his left and Leroy Fer to his right.
With a lack of options, Wayne Routledge was picked to link up the midfield with the front two. Leroy Fer has played the role in some previous pre-season friendlies, but he was needed in the midfield trio.
Today’s shape looks like a 4-3-1-2, with Routledge as CAM. Though could possibly be a 4-3-3 with Ayew & Routledge either side of Abraham pic.twitter.com/uOQif2ymIy
? Vital Swansea City (@VitalSwansea) August 5, 2017
After a quiet opening 10 minutes or so, as the Swans got up to speed with the game, they began to show some good passages of play, and as the game wore on – we got a glimpse of the style of football that Clement is looking to establish here.
Playing more football out from the back, and showing more patience in their build-up play, they were without the injured Fernando Llorente, so they had to rely on other methods to create goalscoring chances.
It was encouraging actually to see us trying alternative ways to create chances, other than simply playing the ball into the wide channels before targeting the big Spanish striker in the box with good crosses.
Tom Carroll was lively in midfield, linking up well with Olsson, while Leroy Fer continued his pre-season form. Ayew continued to show his selfishness and refusal to pass when he gets inside the box, but he`s still capable of winning corners and testing defenders in good positions.
Tammy Abraham simply looks a handful for a defender. His big frame, strength and confidence on the ball is a joy to watch, and once again he was on the scoresheet – having done well to create the move that he finished from 3 yards out.
At the other end of the pitch, the Swans showed their battling qualities to re-gain possession before Sampdoria could get into better goalscoring positions, keeping Fabianski from having to make many decent saves during the game.
We opened the scoring just before half time. Tom Carroll, taking over set piece duties from Everton-bound Sigurdsson, sent in a free-kick from the left that Leroy Fer leapt highest to head into the net.
Within seconds of the restart, we doubled our lead after one of the most bizarre own goals you`ll have seen. Good pressure forced the Sampdoria full back to pass back to the goalkeeper, but the pacey pass caught out the goalkeeper who couldn`t stop it from rolling into the net.
Just before the hour mark, Paul Clement makes his first sub as he brings on new Summer signing Roque Mesa in place of Leon Britton.
The third goal on 64 minutes was all about the excellent build-up play from Tammy Abraham. His clever flick released the ball to Ayew who returned to the striker to help them break forward.
The Chelsea loanee then picks out Carroll in space down the left side, his cross was parried by the goalkeeper before deflecting back off the striker and into the net. It looked like the ball hit his hand on the way but the linesman kept his flag down.
Another aspect of Swansea`s play that was pleasing today, particularly in the second half was our excellent pressing in the opposition`s half. There was a moment when we had about 5 players blocking Sampdoria in their own right side of their half, preventing them from progressing up the field and forcing them to make mistakes.
That sort of energetic pressing and desire to close the opposition down was highly encouraged by Clement on the touchline, and again we look well-drilled and organised.
Abraham took a knock later in the game and was replaced by Narsingh, a move that triggered a slight tactical change as Routledge moved to the left with Ayew up top on his own.
Our fourth came from the unlikeliest of sources, as Fernandez found a good two yards of space inside the box to head in Carroll`s corner from the right. Might he score a League goal this season!?
In the final few minutes, Clement made his final subs, with McBurnie, Fulton and Rangel all coming on for Ayew, Fer and Naughton.
It was an encouraging performance from the Swans today, and whilst Sampdoria weren`t quite as strong as expected, there was some promising signs – good crisp passing out from the back and excellent high pressure. Abraham also looks a handful and we looked solid elsewhere.
The one concern is our lack of backup options, as outside the starting 11 and maybe the exception of one, possibly two players, we`re lacking alternatives if a game is not going our way.
Hopefully that will be addressed before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
Fabianski – 6
Little to do, better distribution than usual and handled everything that came his way.
Naughton – 6.5
Solid without being overly impressive, does the basics well but still not as strong as Olsson going forward.
Mawson – 6.5
Hardly tested, but comfortable on the ball.
Fernandez – 7
As above and took his goal well.
Olsson – 7
Energetic down the wing as usual, and linked up well with Carroll, carrying on from last season it looks like.
Britton – 7
Does what he does best, some neat passing from deep and helped us to dictate and dominate possession.
Carroll – 7.5
Some excellent deliveries from set pieces, setting up Fer’s opener as well as crossing for Abraham’s goal. Neat on the ball and very dynamic in both defence and offence.
Leroy Fer – 7
Grew more into the game after his goal. Always looked more capable in attacking positions and would be more useful playing just behind the strikers.
Was better than expected in the number 10 role but still not the answer. Didn’t really get Abraham involved enough in a creative sense but was never lacking effort
Abraham – 8
Showed signs of brilliance. Obviously has a lot of confidence and gets himself into some excellent goalscoring positions, we just need to do better to pick him out more often. Not as strong in his hold-up play as Llorente but still shows some clever touches here and there.
Ayew – 7
A busy performance, often found himself in possession inside the box, but often tends to go on himself without picking out a team-mate in a better position.
Mesa – 6
Showed a wider range of passing than Britton, lifting longer balls to help move the ball forward. Has a tendency to lose the ball once in a poor position but other than that was faultless.
Some decent, pacey runs down the right, but with his head down constantly he never really knows where his team-mates are and failed to pick them out with crosses.