After Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at home against Chelsea, a number of Swansea City fans have reacted by insisting that head coach Carlos Carvalhal must switch to a back four for next weekend’s trip to AFC Bournemouth.
Many supporters are beginning to lose patience with the conservative and defend-first mentality of the 5-4-1 system and they want to see us adopt a back four formation, but Carvalhal doesn’t believe that such a tactical change is necessary.
In a Twitter poll, only 8% voted that they wanted Carvalhal to adopt a 5-4-1 formation at Bournemouth, with 4-3-3 the favoured system:
What formation should Carvalhal use for Saturday's game at Bournemouth?
— Vital Swansea #BackToJack (@VitalSwansea) April 30, 2018
After switching to a 4-2-2-2 formation for the recent 1-1 draw against Everton, something that Carvalhal was forced into after van der Hoorn’s shoulder injury that he picked up the week before at West Brom, we were expecting the same thing again for the visit of Chelsea when it was confirmed that captain Federico Fernandez would be sidelined with a knee problem.
However, Carvalhal wasn’t tempted to switch to a back four this time around, against 5th placed Chelsea, as he brought in Connor Roberts at right wing-back, and shifted Kyle Naughton across into the centre of defence.
“We play with five at the back but we play differently against Chelsea,”
“I don’t think we move things about the system because the performance showed we are still in a good way. It is not because we lose 1-0 and we missed opportunities that we must change things about.
“If we play like this, with a line of four at the beginning or later in the game it is something we are ready to do, and if the game says we must do it in the beginning or during the game.” – Carlos Carvalhal
Swansea fans were encouraged by the performance against Everton when we played with a back four. We created more than enough chances to win the game and had 7 shots on target, so you can’t blame them for wanting more of the same next week. However, against Chelsea, we had to wait until the 79th minute to see us test the goalkeeper with a shot. That’s just not good enough at home. Yes, it was a Chelsea side who are 5th in the table that we were up against but let’s be honest, they were rather poor and didn’t offer a great threat themselves either.
Carvalhal has now been in charge for 15 games, 12 of them with a back-five formation, and the other three using a 4-4-2 variation.
The numbers back up the fans desires of reverting to a back four, although it has to be said that a 12 vs 3 game comparison isn’t ideal.
Goals and shots for are in green, against are in red.
Goals: 12 – 18 (per game: 1.0 – 1.3)
Shots: 83 – 177 (per game: (6.9 – 14.8)
Shots on Target: 28 – 53 (per game: 2.3 – 4.4)
Shots Off Target: 55 – 124 (per game: 4.6 – 10.3)
Goals: 4 – 3 (per game: 1.3 – 1.0)
Shots: 34 – 33 (per game: (11.3 – 11.0)
Shots on Target: 16 – 11 (per game: 5.3 – 3.7)
Shots Off Target: 18 – 21 (per game: 3.0 – 7.0)
We’re also unbeaten in 3 games playing in a back four.
Since the West Ham win, the #Swans have played 5 games in a back-5 formation, managing 7 shots on target in those 5 games – the same amount that we managed in the 1-1 draw vs Everton when we went with a back four.
— Vital Swansea #BackToJack (@VitalSwansea) April 29, 2018
To summarise the above, we’re averaging more than 4 shots per game more when playing in a back four compared to a back five, including double the number of shots on target per game – on average. We’re also averaging fewer shots conceded too.
It has to be pointed out again though that a 3-game comparison isn’t enough for a good comparison, and those 3 games were against Watford, Newcastle (both away) and Everton (home).
The back five stats includes games against the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City.
4-3-3. Tammy on the left, A.Ayew as the false nine and J.Ayew on the right. Connor Roberts should play, but won’t.
— Tom Powell (@tom_powell06) April 30, 2018
Yeah, me too. Not a fan of the formation at all. Remember how I felt when Clement set Swansea up in that way for the Watford home game in September. The system worked for Carvalhal for a period but Chris Wathan summed it up well last night when he said it's served its purpose.
— Stuart James (@StuartJamesGNM) April 29, 2018
We've got no choice. When Carlos switched to 4 3 3 we looked far better. Need to be starting that formation next 3 games.
— Dan (@D8nnyJ) April 28, 2018
But surely it’s time for Carvalhal to freshen things up and put us in a better position to help us stay in the Premier League. Last season, Paul Clement switched things up by changing to a 4-3-1-2 formation and bringing in Leon Britton back into the heart of midfield. That change saw us win 4 games in five to ensure our top-flight status.
Judging from our current tactics, the plan is to keep things tight early on and to open the game up later on. It wasn’t until we changed to a back four against Chelsea that we looked like we might score an equaliser, and surely we’ve got to put ourselves in a better scoring position from the first minute, rather than the 71st.