Team Selection: Bad Choices Didn't Help
David Moyes rather unfortunately had to make changes to the team that beat Leicester City last weekend due to a knee injury to Duncan Watmore, which is set to keep him out for the rest of the season.
This put him in an uncomfortable position with regards to selections. He clearly does not trust Wahbi Khazri enough to start him in games, whilst Adnan Januzaj is known for his lack of work ethic and defensive inadequacies.
With that in mind, Moyes opted to play Sebastian Larsson in Watmore's place, and it just didn't have the desired effect.
Larsson didn't have the energy or pace to get up and down in the manner that Watmore usually would, and we suffered as a result of it in both halves of the pitch. There's absolutely no question that we would have benefited more from playing an actual wide player in that role and allowing Larsson to take up his proper place in the centre of our midfield, a position that he was so effective in last weekend against Leicester.
Having came off injured at half time against Leicester, Steven Pienaar and Jason Denayer retained their places in the side and I feel that was the wrong decision - neither man played well and we lost the midfield battle which ultimately cost us the game.
We won the game last weekend largely due to the impact made by Jan Kirchhoff and Sebastian Larsson in the middle of the park, and rather bafflingly neither man started in the centre in South Wales.
Gav's rating: 3/10 - We should have started with Khazri and Kirchhoff!
Tactics: Change Of Plan Limited Our Impact
Victor Anichebe and Patrick van Aanholt linked up excellently against Leicester so it came as a surprise that the big Nigerian forward was found more on the right hand side of the pitch, where he was far less effective and didn't have the desired impact which was needed for us to break open Swansea's fragile defence.
I understand that we were fearful of what impact losing Watmore would have but the players looked completely uncomfortable with how they were being asked to play and Anichebe just wasn't being utilised to the best of his abilities.
We were poor in possession of the ball but exactly how much of that can be attributed to Moyes is anyone's guess - my take is that the unnecessary altering of our team shape resulted in the players maybe not hitting their stride in the same way that they have done in previous weeks.
Gav's rating: 3/10 - I can't understand why we broke up the left-side partnership!
It was clear at half time that our central midfielders were struggling, and that Sebastian Larsson needed to move inside.
The clever thing to do would have been to move Larsson into a midfield three alongside Didier Ndong and Jan Kirchhoff, but instead Moyes opted to keep the same team that had limped through the initial forty-five minutes.
Jason Denayer, who had endured a torrid time up until this point, gave away a really poor penalty early in the half. Swansea scored. Soon after they scored again, by which point it was too late to make meaningful changes.
Adnan Januzaj came on for Sebastian Larsson after the second Swansea goal when really it was too late for him to have any sort of impact. Moments later, he also brought on Jan Kirchhoff in place of Ndong, who had been largely awful.
The last change wasn't made until five minutes to go, and with us losing 3-0 the decision was taken to bring on another defender, presumably to help keep the score down.
Gav's rating: 0/10 - Incredibly poor - changes were made too late!
Post-Match Comments: Fair Enough
David Moyes was reasonable in his assessment of the game, though if I am being picky he did fail to hold his hands up and admit that he maybe got some of his big in-game decisions wrong.
Speaking in his post-match email, he said:
It’s certainly a disappointing day; we didn’t get what we came for. We were in good spirits and confident coming into the game, but we didn’t put that in to action.
We didn’t really get to grips with the game, we struggled with crossing the ball and we had a number of opportunities in the first half but just didn’t make the most of them.
Small things today didn’t go for us, Jermain [Defoe] missed his chance and there were a few more went begging. It just didn’t go our way.
We were on the back-foot after going behind and we just never really got back into the game.
We’ve been on a good run and we’re going to have to go on a number of good runs to be able to climb up the table and get the results we need over the course of the season.
I agree with Moyes with regards to the chances that we missed - in top-level football the margin for error is tiny and when you have a player with a chance to put us ahead like Billy Jones was, only for him to pass the ball when in a shooting position, you can't really bemoan your luck too much.
We were our own worst enemy on Saturday - Swansea weren't particularly brilliant but they took their chances and we didn't. It was as simple as that.
Moyes might admit that he's had better days and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt - we've had a fruitful month or so and it would be foolish to ignore all of our good recent work just because we've lost an away game.
The season ahead is going to be long and torturous and with table-toppers Chelsea rocking up on Wearside this Wednesday we simply cannot afford as complacent as we were on Saturday in South Wales.
Gav's Rating: 3/10 - Dave has had better days but it's nothing that he can't fix!