Swansea City faced a well organised Sunderland side with a new lease of life. They had only lost one game in the last five and beaten league leaders Manchester City in that time. Sunderland were also unbeaten at home under Martin O’neill, and with Swansea’s poor away form this was going to be a tough ask.
The Most Important Statistic
Statistically this was an incredible game. Swansea completed a staggering 592 out of 676 passes, while Sunderland completed a meagre 202 out of 287. Swansea took 16 shots while Sunderland had 15, from which both sides had 6 shots blocked. Swansea ended the game with 69.1% possession, seemingly a dominant performance.
However, statistics do not tell the whole story of this game and it was Sunderland that created the clearer chances. Sunderland began on the front foot, pinning Swansea back and making them work hard just to keep the ball, while doing well to close the angles for passes through to the wings or directly into Graham’s feet.
Sunderland were well organised, worked hard, tactically they seemed to have identified Swansea’s main threats, and tried to shut them out of the game. It took a good ten minutes before Swansea resembled the team that everyone had been lauding for the last week. They eased themselves into the game after another slow start and Sigurdsson put Dyer through on the right hand edge of Sunderland’s box. Dyer delivered a low fizzing cross which managed to find its way through to Sinclair at the back post. Somehow what seemed to be a simple tap in was sent way over the bar from the corner of the six yard box. A minute later Sunderland sliced through the Swansea defence with Sessegnon playing a one two with McClean, before caressing the ball into Vorm’s top left hand corner from a tight angle. Fourteen minutes into the game and Sunderland had the upper hand.
The half was played out with Swansea banging on the door, but left out in the cold by an unwelcoming and stubborn Sunderland team. The Swans had an astounding 73.2% of the ball by the end of the first half. But lacked the most important statistic of them all – goals.
Fresh Out Of Ideas
Things did not improve in the second half for Swansea with inceptions of creativity difficult to manufacture and that is all it took for Sunderland to double their lead. No sooner had the thought occurred to Gardner that a 25 yard volley was looping on the diagonal over a dumbfounded Michael Vorm.
Bardsley was brilliant in keeping out Sinclair who maybe didn’t attack him enough, and then keeping Routledge at bay. Sunderland’s wide midfield players were quick to double up on the likes of Sinclair and Dyer, with the centre mids offering protection to the centre backs. This was highlighted by the fact that Graham was only able to complete 11 out of a total of 15 passes he attempted in this game. McEachran joined Swansea on loan from Chelsea this week, he was brought on to help change the game, but could not make his mark on the game. Although 24/25 passes on your away debut isn’t a bad start when looking to play regularly with the Swans.
This was an exceptional, tactically astute, performance by Sunderland and more teams will look to emulate this against Swansea in the future. Sunderland gave Swansea the respect they had earned from their previous games. They remained compact in defence, recovering quickly and mainly looked to play on the counter attack.
So I would not be surprised if Rodgers watches this game a fair few times. Also I expect the whole backroom staff will enjoy analysing the game and making comparisons with previous examples. In order to find ways of improving further, and breaking down teams that set up to defend deep against a very good passing side.