We’ve been used to managers bringing defenders on from the substitutes bench in recent seasons but Graham Potter went for broke on Saturday against Ipswich Town by bringing off our captain Mike van der Hoorn and bringing on winger Barrie McKay with 15 minutes to play as we chased a 2-1 deficit.
It was a bold move to say the very least – one that quickly proved to be influential as McKay provided an assist for Celina’s brilliant equaliser within four minutes of coming on. But five minutes later, some would argue that the change cost us as Ipswich regained the lead directly from a corner. Kristoffer Nordfeldt’s goalkeeping skills came into doubt and rightly so as he couldn’t keep out the headed effort on goal despite it lacking any pace and bouncing first in front of him.
Did Potter get it wrong? Was the manager to blame for the defeat? I’m not so sure. The substitution cancelled itself out if you like and we were back in the position that we were in before it was made – a goal behind.
As well as our lack of finishing ability despite creating so many clear-cut chances (5), the soft goals we conceded against an Ipswich side that I thought were one of the worst at the Liberty Stadium this season. But lets give them some credit, they were actually clinical – unlike ourselves and took the chances to win the game.
First Half Average Team Shapes
The two average team shapes of the first half are shown below, Swansea on the left in white (attacking top to bottom) and Ipswich on the right in blue (attacking bottom to top).
In the first half, the Swans dominated with 77% possession while Ipswich scored both of their 2 shots having played just 74 accurate passes compared to Swansea’s 379.
Ipswich looked to go direct and counter with direct, long passes – keeping their main striker Freddie Sears (20) high up the pitch and packing the middle with 5 players to cope with Swansea’s slick possession play.
In terms of balance in the first half, the Swans favoured the left flank with the excellent Dan James linking up with Celina down the left and McBurnie was more active down that side as a result. Like in recent games, Roberts (23) had little support down the right in front of right-back Kyle Naughton with George Byers (28) operating much deeper than Celina.
Bersant Celina (10) played inside of James down the left channel rather than behind McBurnie in the number ten role.
Overall Average Team Shapes & The Impact Of the Substitutions
The two side-by-side average team shape graphics below show Swansea’s overall team shape on the left, and on the right with the substitutes included.
It’s clear comparing the two below that Graham Potter went for it in the second half and balanced us out in attacking terms.
Joel Asoro (16) filled that gap down the right flank and we now had a balanced front four of Asoro – McBurnie – Celina – James with Mckay also just behind in the inside right channel. Leroy Fer also came on and had to drop deeper to cover the hole left behind by van der Hoorn.
It might look like we left a big hole in the right position in the bottom right graphic below but Connor Roberts did drop back deeper following van der Hoorn’s sub. Potter was then happy with a back line of Roberts – Rodon and Grimes with Leroy Fer slotting in there when needed.
Ipswich’s overall team shape (bottom left) and including substitutes (bottom right) shows how direct and central the visitors were in the game as Sears averaged a position right on the edge of our box which isn’t a surprise as Ipswich did little in terms of build-up play and looked for long, direct balls forward – and it was effective and caused us problems.