Using Statistics: Swansea 2 Norwich 3
by Absolute Thai Football
Away from Middle Eastlands, this season is a tale of two Citys. Swansea in tenth and Norwich in ninth lost only one of their last five league games. The Canaries have, in Grant Holte, a burly throwback striker combining the battering ram from his Shrewsbury Town days with the quick feet that bamboozled Everton defenders last December. Both sides recently lost to resurgent Sunderland but the two coaches, Irishman Brendan Rogers (who signed a new three year contract this week) and Scotsman Paul Lambert insist on style with substance, signing players that fit into an attractive, dynamic system.
A Higher Tempo Turns Weaknesses to Strengths
Swansea City 2 Norwich City 3
The First Half.
Norwich started with much more possession than their host, concentrating on attacks down the left midfield channel. Swansea, by playing Williams and Caulker deep gave Norwich mo freedom, but coped well with crosses. Norwich played a higher defensive line to pressurize top scorer and lone striker Graham. However, this created space behind the Canaries’ back line that Sigurdsson and Dyer exploited to excellent effect. The Swansea goal on 23 minutes was a neat summary of the defensive decisions and their consequences. A disguised reverse pass by Sigurdsson to Dyer in a central position was then laid off to Graham in the left channel to powerfully drive home past Ruddy.
Norwich’s larger and stronger players found Swansea’s pace and angles troublesome. It makes the higher defensive line surprising when the angles and movement of Swansea kept the Norwich defenders from interacting effectively with their midfield. Drury’s frustration showed resulting in his 43rd minute yellow card for a crude lunge on the mercurial Dyer. Norwich had plenty of possession and forty six more passes than their hosts, but too often they were executed without menace.
The Second Half.
Norwich’s immediate increase of tempo meant their high defensive line allied to faster passing and pressure on the ball carrier caused panic amongst the Swansea defence, especially for the second goal which Pilkington will claim, but was an own goal. The harassing of the Swansea players in possession gave the previously influential Dyer and Sigurdsson far less effective possession, leading to Drury’s substitution in the 57th minute.
Despite his thoughtless shirt pull for the Swansea penalty on 87 minutes, Grant Holt had an extremely influential game. As well as scoring the third goal, his hold up play and distribution was excellent.
The shape of player influence altered as Norwich increased their tempo. In the first half, with much of the play concentrating on the left side, Bennett and Martin on the right had less input in attacking moves. However, in the game as a whole, the influence points were much more centralized as Norwich seized the opportunity the pressurize the deep lying Swansea defenders.
For Swansea, a positive first half display was reflected in strength through the middle, whereas overall the wide play of Rangel was effective, but the influence of the players he tried to find in the centre diminished.