Swansea City currently find themselves in 19th after a poor start to the campaign. Having finished 15th last season, the Swans will be looking to emulate that this season but have found it to be quite challenging following the departure of talisman Gylfi Sigurdsson to Everton for £45m. Having signed for £4.5m in the January transfer window, how influential could Tom Carroll become in Swansea’s race to beat the drop this season?
Carroll is more of a deep-lying central midfielder with great creativity and ball retention, similar to the role former team-mate Luka Modric is renowned for throughout his career. His creativity has resulted in the creation of 14 goal-scoring chances, the most out of any Swansea player so far this season. He only has one assist to his name so far, but you can expect that tally to rise come the end of the season. The 25-year-old has completed 380 passes this season with an 83% pass success rate – showing how well he fits in with Swansea’s ball-playing style of football. The fact that of his successful passes, 71% of them were forward passes.
Always looking to move the ball forward will be key for Swansea this season, with Carroll to be at the heart of it. His positive style of play will play into the hands of on-loan striker Tammy Abraham who is responsible for scoring 4 goals and registering 1 assist so far this season. Abraham is a forward who looks to get in behind and take defenders on, and as a result of this, he is an indirect free-kick threat standing at 1.90m tall. Carroll is on set-piece duty and has great technique when it comes to his deliveries. Throw the likes of Alfie Mawson, Frederico Fernandez and Leroy Fer into the mix, along with Carroll’s threatening deliveries and Swansea look like a side that will have a constant attacking threat from any set-piece situation.
This more attacking style of play will also allow the full-backs to get further up the pitch and add to the attack. Martin Olsson and Kyle Naughton are full-backs who like getting up the field – Naughton has created 7 scoring opportunities whilst Olsson has created 4 (Angel Rangel fills in for the injured Olsson short term). Fer and Carroll then drop slightly to cover their respective full-backs when they bomb forward, which works well for both midfielders as they tend to find themselves in space if the ball is worked back to them, which in turn leads to Carroll being able to pick out an incisive pass and in Fer’s case he is able to carry the ball forward into dangerous territory as he looks to unlock the defence and score himself. The return of Renato Sanches will add even more stability as the former golden boy winner adds more flair and another threat from long range efforts. This balances the Swansea midfield well in terms of attacking and defending.
Another player that will also benefit from Carroll’s created chances would be both Jordan Ayew and Luciano Sam Clucas. Ayew is a player who likes to cut inside to get either a shot or cross off. If Carroll finds the ball whilst he has dropped back to receive it, Ayew’s movement will create significantly more chances effective through balls onto goal. More a creator than a goalscorer, the Ghanaian has registered two assists with an average pass accuracy of 85%. This is in contrast to his shooting stats – despite finding the net this season, he has an average shot accuracy of 44%, a team in Swansea’s position need a much higher conversion rate if they want to avoid the drop.
Lastly, it would be unfair to overlook the contribution of Sam Clucas. Having signed in August on a 4-year deal, the midfielder has brought in fresh energy and defensive support for both the defence and midfield. Keeping hold of the ball and not being scared of a tackle make Clucas an important part of the Swansea midfield, his strong defensive contribution allows more attacking players like Carroll to thrive and do their bit further up the field. So far this season his stats are impressive – an average of 3 defensive actions per game along with a 58% tackle success rate show just how important he could prove to be, whilst maintaining a pass accuracy of 85% also show his value in keeping his side in control of the ball after he’s won it.
In conclusion, Swansea City have the players and potential to avoid the drop this season – it’s just a matter of getting their strongest squad together and utilising their system of play. However, time is not really on their side so in this case the sooner the better if they want to be playing football in the Premier League next season.
Stats mentioned in this article are via Squawka Football