Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Match Analysis: Swansea 2-1 Man Utd - How Garry Monk masterminded a famous victory

Kev - the brains behind comeonyouswans.com, takes us through how we were able to complete a double over LVG's Manchester United

Swansea City completed a League double over Manchester United for the first time ever in their history thanks to another 2-1 victory after goals from Ki Sung Yueng and Bafetimbi Gomis.

Monk's tactical changes and midfield three

Garry Monk may have proved some of his critics wrong after making some tactical adjustments to help cope with United's diamond 4-4-2 and the extra players they have in the centre of the pitch. We mentioned this in our Tactical Preview here, we initially thought that Monk's usual 4-2-3-1 with wingers would allow for more freedom down the flanks but would leave us exposed in the middle.


However, this was not the case though as Monk planned and prepared for United's most used formation of late - the 4-4-2 diamond, naming only one recognised winger - Wayne Routledge - playing him more centrally and starting Cork, Ki and Shelvey to help give his side more presence in the centre of the pitch. Compared to the above formation in our tactical preview, here's how the teams actually set up:


Cork was given the tough task of dealing with Fellaini in the heart of defence, with Shelvey and Ki either side, shifting out to the flanks when needed to give the full backs support defensively and offensively. Sigurdsson and Routledge were either side of lone striker Bafetimbi Gomis to give the Swans a front 3 effectively when out of position to apply pressure on United's shaky and less than convincing back four.

Swansea's pressure on United's defence

Swansea's tactical changes saw them operate in a diamond with five players working well together to apply pressure within Manchester United's half of the pitch. Jack Cork always operated in a deeper role and was given the task of man-marking Fellaini. The new Swansea signing did an excellent job in limiting his threat throughout the game despite Fellaini often using his extra physique and strength to his (unfair) advantage and getting away with it.


This pressure forced United's defence into avoidable mistakes, as they tried to play the ball from the back into a congested area, when often a pass out wide to one of the full backs was a much safer option (above). Swansea City have always defended  in a 4-4-2 shape, but the tactical changes allowed for an extra player to push forward, with Gomis, Sigurdsson and Routledge in a front 3 applying pressure on a far-from-convincing United back line.


United often wanted to play it short from the back but were forced to kick long to Fellaini. This wasn't a problem as the midfielder, playing at the tip of their midfield diamond, won the majority of the aerial challenges, but Swansea weren't concerned about this as they outnumbered United in the middle, and crowded around them to make it very difficult for United to play football in the centre.


The below images show  how Swansea often surrounded United in the centre and made it very difficult for them in this area, with their only way forward via the flanks.

  12_Swansea_midfield_surround_a07_Swansea_midfield_trio_rotation 26_swansea_surround_united 29_United_Rooney_forced_backwards

There were moments when United were able to break forward on the counter attack, like Di Maria does below, but the former Real Madrid midfielder was never able to look anywhere as dangerous as he did for the Spanish giants.


Ki & Shelvey operating in wider areas

Swansea's changes also saw Ki & Shelvey operating in wider areas to provide both defensive and offensive support for the full backs. Below shows Shelvey switching the play over to the left side, where Ki can move the ball to Taylor before shifting across to support an attack.


There was rotation during the game, with Ki & Shelvey swapping sides, but Jack Cork stuck to his limited role of sitting deep and protecting the defence.


Below shows Taylor starting an attack down the left with Shelvey nearby in support.


McNair always going backwards

Manchester United's best method of attack was via the flanks as they were often crowded out in the centre thanks to Swansea's effective midfield setup as previously pointed out. However, Paddy McNair was a hindrance for Manchester United with his negative and conservative play.


McNair was all too often passing sideways or backwards and never looked confident and passing forwards or making an ambitious run down the wing. Above, shows the full back passing backwards when he could be looking at making an inside pass to Herrera or Rooney, or even running into the space in front of Neil Taylor. Below is a similar situation, he has space again to make a forward run but instead passes backwards. Swansea City also deserve credit though for limiting his options as both of his team-mates closest to him are man-marked.


On the opposite flank, Ki shifted out wide to support Naughton to help limit Shaw's threat, but there were moments when the left back was able to get down towards the by-line, but United's final ball from these areas was poor throughout the entire 90 minutes.


United open the scoring

Despite Swansea's good shape, organisation and work-rate, they conceded the opening goal just a few minutes before the half-hour mark. Di Maria finds some space near the halfway line to move forward before passing the ball out wide to Luke Shaw. The goalscorer, Herrera is allowed to make a long run, all the way from inside his own half to inside Swansea's penalty box where he fired into the net. You can see below, that Swansea's midfield diamond of 5 is missing a player - Wayne Routledge. He should be Herrera is, which would complete the diamond and allow him to track his run.


Luke Shaw receives the ball and gets the better of Kyle Naughton down the left, forcing Fernandez to move across to cover. He leaves a gap and Rooney is now unmarked to receive his inside pass. Left back Neil Taylor can move inside alongside Ashley Williams to help defend against United's front two.

Three consecutive one-touch passes complete United's best move of the match. Rooney moves the ball back to di Maria, who disguises a clever pass across to Herrera to fire in off the post.


Instant equaliser from Swansea City

Manchester United's lead barely lasted two minutes though as Swansea City were able to equalise from a basic throw-in on the left side. There's little pressure on the ball as Routledge can easily get in front of his marker to receive the throw from Taylor. For some reason this season, the Swans have had problems taking throws, spending far too long in taking them but here it was easy. Shelvey also has a few yards of space to look up and pick out Ki's run at the far post.


The cross is an inviting one and is tricky to defend against, as you've got both Sigurdsson and Gomis also running across the penalty area. Ki gets the better of Luke Shaw, running across and getting in front of him to get a classy touch to direct the ball past de Gea.


Swansea continue to keep a well disciplined defensive shape in the second half but they were camped in their own half for the first 15-20 minutes after the restart. Despite their dominance, United were never able to force Fabianski into making any decent saves, and he was only called into action to catch corners and crosses.

  34_United_lack_of_options35_swansea_pressure_c 36_swansea_diamond_pressure_d

Swansea's only method of creating attacks was quick counters when winning possession deep in their own half. Below,    Sigurdsson easily wins the ball off Di Maria, and after just 4 passes the ball is up to Gomis but the pass from Ki to the striker is easily intercepted.


There were a few occasions when the Swans tried to play through balls for Gomis to run on to (below)  - which suits his style - but they never came off for the Frenchman. But it's refreshing to see that we're finally starting to adjust and play passes for Gomis to run onto, rather than passes that require him to drop deep and hold up the play.


Valencia replaces McNair but he's no improvement

It was no surprise to see McNair was replaced by Valencia at the start of the second half as the young Irishman was not effective at all in Swansea's half of the pitch. But Valencia was not much of an improvement for United as he was rarely able to get forward and make his bursting runs down the right. That was down to Swansea's shape again, and Shelvey's excellent work - forcing him backwards, rather than drifting from his position and giving him too space down the flank.


Below is another example of how Shelvey was able to push Valencia backwards, by applying good pressure. If he moves in more centrally it would give Valencia the freedom down the flank, but thanks to the midfielder Neil Taylor was rarely under pressure. Valencia also lacks support inside below. Herrera should be alongside him but is nowhere to be seen, meaning Fellaini has to drop deep from his attacking position.


Fellaini drops deep to give Valencia a passing option below, but they lack options further forward and Swansea City can surround United.


Ki also helps to limit Shaw's space down the left, but this soon changes when he's replaced by Ashley Young.


Young's freedom on left flank

Young replaces Shaw and United finally have an attacking outlet, as they often able to spray the ball out wide for Young to get down the flank, but again, the final ball into the box was never a danger. United were outnumbered in the box and crosses in were either cleared by the defence or collected by the goalkeeper.


Ki is far too central below, Young has yards of space as the ball is moved across to the left.


Swansea eventually stop wing play

Swansea City soon dealt with Young's threat down the left as Routledge moves across to give Naughton support, and another attacking avenue is effectively closed off.


Above and below screenshots shows the impact of the tactical adjustment from Monk to instruct Routledge to defend in a wider position and to drop deeper. Young is now forced backwards and this eventually leads to Manchester United resorting to desperate long ball tactics to Fellaini.


Swansea's winning goal

Swansea City had an answer for everything United threw at them. They closed off the space down the wings, flooded and congested the midfield area and applied pressure on their defence, before they eventually had to resort to long balls. They were soon punished for a lack of creativity when Swansea took only their second chance of the second half to grab the winner.


Fernandez robs the ball from Fellaini and quickly moves the ball into midfield.


Similar to United's goal, Shelvey can make a free run forward. Ki squares the ball to him, he isn't closed down quick enough and can shoot at goal. Gomis tries to duck out of the way but the ball takes a fortunate touch off his shoulder to help it past de Gea.


Fellaini is the targetman late on for long balls, but when he was able to bring the ball down under control, he was left isolated by a lack of support around him.


Montero was Monk's second substitute and this finally allowed Swansea to get forward and get out of their own half. His runs down the left pinned United back and he had a superb chance late on to make it 3-1, but he couldn't pick out a pass to either Gomis or Ki (below).


Big thanks to Kev for taking the time to put this together - you can follow him at @ComeOnYouSwans