Ahead of Swansea vs Spurs at the Liberty Stadium we look at the strengths and weaknesses of Paul Clement’s team.
Days after a tricky trip to Turf Moor, we find ourselves with another difficult away day assignment. Paul Clement has lifted the Swans off the foot of the table and now has them hovering one place above the relegation zone. Ahead of Swansea vs Spurs we take a look at their strengths and weaknesses.
Weakness: centre backs
Paul Clement has solved a number of issues during his brief time in charge. The biggest problem that remains is his centre backs, Alfie Mawson and Federico Fernandez.
Opponents have been taking advantage of two factors. Firstly, Mawson and Fernandez’s impetuosity, which sees them both get drawn out of position. Secondly, the space between the lines that often opens up in front of them.
In recent matches, Swansea’s opponents have been brutally exposing the pair and it is hurting the team. Roll back a couple of weeks to Bournemouth 2-0 Swansea in the Premier League. Both of the Cherries goals came from attacking the centre back pairing.
Benik Afobe opened the scoring via a wicked deflection off Alfie Mawson. However, in the build up, Bournemouth got between the lines, which rashly drew Federico Fernandez out.
Both Benik Afobe and Joshua King attacked the space that Fernandez vacated. The pair rushed in with Mawson unable to cover for his partner’s error. Watch the video below to see the space in front of Swansea’s defence, Fernandez’s impetuosity and the goal in full.
Bournemouth then netted a second by exposing Fernandez’s partner, Alfie Mawson. Again, the Swans gave up too much space between the lines as Jack Cork and Tom Carroll were drawn in. The centre backs were left vulnerable by this with King having space to take the ball down and run straight at the defence.
King then finds Afobe’s run through the centre backs. As he does so, Mawson gets himself in a terrible position with his poor footwork causing him to trip and fall. As a result, Afobe has time and space to pick his spot.
Watch the short video below to again see the space between the lines and how easy it is for Bournemouth to get at the centre backs.
Prior to playing Bournemouth, Swansea were undone 2-1 by Hull attacking their centre backs. Once more, there were huge holes between the lines, more impetuous defending and spacing issues.
Oumar Niasse opened the scoring for Hull. Similarly to Bournemouth’s opener, space in front of the back four draws an impetuous Federico Fernandez in to an unnecessary challenge. As a result, Niasse can run straight off the back of Alfie Mawson who had become separated from his defensive partner.
Niasse raced in to score, which you can watch in the brief video below to see the move in full.
Hull added a second goal, which again came from directly attacking the Swansea centre backs.
Once more, Hull are able to get between the lines and on to the back four with ease. Other Swansea players are already closing Ahmed Elmohamaday down, so Alfie Mawson needlessly gets drawn towards them and the ball. Separation is created between the centre backs, which allows both Hernandez and Niasse space, giving Fernandez a problem of whom to mark.
Fernandez then compounds Mawson’s error by letting the ball go between his legs to give Niasse a tap in.
Watch the short video below to see the space between the lines, Mawson getting unnecessarily drawn in, confused pointing between him and Jack Cork and finally the Fernandez error.
Both Hull and Bournemouth worked the space well between the lines to attack and expose the centre backs’ impetuosity, spacing and poor movement. In Swansea’s previous match, Burnley also took advantage, but went route one.
A long pass forward from Matt Lowton sent the ball directly over the Swansea midfield. Sam Vokes came to meet it in the usual space that appears in front of the back four. Vokes’ movement draws Federico Fernandez and the defender loses the aerial contest.
As soon as Fernandez is sucked in, Andre Gray spins off him and in to space. Alfie Mawson is slow to recognise the danger and help on the cover. By the time Mawson does notice, Gray is firing the ball in to the corner of the net.
Watch the goal in full in the video below to once more see the space between the lines that opens up for Lowton to send the ball in to, Fernandez being drawn out, which creates space for Gray and Mawson’s slow reaction.
The Tottenham tactics for Swansea vs Spurs should focus on attacking straight through the centre. The Swansea midfield of Leroy Fer, Tom Carroll and Jack Cork is not adept enough at protecting their centre backs. The trio are not defensively-minded with Carroll and Cork undersized and often out-muscled. As a result, centre backs Federico Fernandez and Alfie Mawson are left unprotected and their rash decisions and poor movement can be exposed.
Swansea are set up to cross and in Fernando Llorente they have a very good target. The Swans attacking issues come when he is not in the team as they struggle to fill the void left by the sizeable Spaniard.
Since Paul Clement took over, Swansea lead the Premier League in crosses attempted per match. The majority come down the left where they have the excellent attacking triangle of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Tom Carroll and Martin Olsson.
Sigurdsson will drift in off the line and combine with Carroll to release Olsson on the overlap.
Swansea likes to attack down this left flank as it gets their two best crossers of a ball, Martin Olsson and Tom Carroll, in to positions whereby they can deliver. It’s no surprise that Olsson and Carroll lead the Swans in crosses attempted and completed since Clement took over.
The Tottenham tactics for Swansea vs Spurs hinges on the news if Fernando Llorente is fit or not. If he is then we have a problem and three at the back may be in order. If he’s not then Mauricio Pochettino could get away with a back four.
Strength: set pieces
Needless to say that any team with Gylfi Sigurdsson delivering from a dead ball is going to cause trouble at set pieces. The Icelander is a threat to curl any free kick in to the top corner or land a cross on a sixpence.
Fernando Llorente is often the target, but Alfie Mawson is equally as dangerous. The centre back has three goals in nine matches since Paul Clemet took over and is a serious aerial threat.
The Swans have 13 goals from set pieces, the third highest in the Premier League this season. Therefore, the Tottenham tactics for Swansea vs Spurs should utilise bigger men in any walls at free kicks and three centre backs to deal with corners.
Weakness: Both teams committing errors
Errors could play a large part in determining the result of Swansea vs Spurs.
Since Paul Clement took over, Swansea has committed seven errors in the Premier League that have led to three goals. In the same timeframe, Spurs have made twelve defensive errors leading to five goals.
In fact, Tottenham lead the Premier League in defensive miscues in that period, Swansea are third.
Swansea vs Spurs outlook
With a vocal and passionate crowd, the Liberty Stadium is never an easy place to go. However, having won three and drawn two of our five Premier League visits, we do have a good record in the stadium.
The match will hinge on our ability to directly attack the Swansea centre backs. We will also need to keep set pieces to a minimum and limit their attack down the left through Gylfi Sigurdsson, Tom Carroll and Martin Olsson.
Each team committing defensive errors could make this a wild and bumpy ride.
Swansea vs Spurs prediction: Swansea 1-2 Spurs.