Swansea City have enjoyed an imperious start to their Championship campaign, with the Swans racking up 16 points from a possible 18 with five wins and one draw, under the watchful eye of manager Steve Cooper.
This feat is made even more impressive by the fact that it is Cooper’s first season managing in senior level football, with the Welshman preference being an attacking brand football that also maintains strong organisation when in out of possession.
This season Swansea have set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with a back four of Connor Roberts, Mike van der Hoorn, Joe Rodon and Jake Bidwell having only conceded four goals so far this term, a clear sign of Swansea’s ability to keep and maintain a lead.
The defence are also equally adept on the ball, with the backline displaying a strong tendency to pass the ball around in their own half of the field when in the lead.
Which causes the opposition to work harder to win the ball back, meaning that players are pulled out of position, leading to more space for Swansea’s ‘front four’ to create opportunities.
In midfield, Cooper has deployed a holding midfield partnership of Matt Grimes and Jay Fulton, with both players significantly contributing to Swansea’s overall average possession statistics of 80.4% per game.
This is a partnership which works well in tandem as Fulton is good at breaking up play with well-timed tackles, whilst the more creative Grimes is given free roam to use his passing and shooting abilities to create chances for both his teammates and himself.
The most impressive faction of Swansea’s current line-up is their front four, which is made up of three attacking players, Andre Ayew, George Byers and Bersant Celina, who sit behind striker Borja Baston.
An achievement made even more fascinating by the fact that the striker’s Swansea City career was seemingly dead and buried after an uninspiring loan spell with Deportivo Alaves in Spain last season, in which he only scored on five occasions.
As mentioned earlier, the six foot three inch striker is supported by Ayew, Byers and Celina, all of which provide different qualities for the Swans’ attack.
Andre Ayew provides the attack with good finishing abilities, which helps to take the scoring burden off of Baston’s shoulders.
Whilst he operates predominantly from the right, Ayew tends to drift infield to draw the opposition full-back in and open up space for right full-back Connor Roberts to overlap, as was seen in the build-up to Kyle Naughton’s goal against Birmingham.
Secondly, Byers acts as a link between the holding midfielders and Baston by utilising the use of short passes and lay-offs to teammates. In addition to his creative qualities, Byers is also likely to shoot from distance, which means he can make late runs to the edge of the box for either Ayew or Celina to cut the ball back for him to score.
Lastly, Swansea possess one of the Championship’s most inform players in the form of Bersant Celina, who takes up his position on the left of the three. It is from this position that he is able to display his abilities to play penetrating through balls and cut inside and shoot with his stronger right foot, as was seen last season against Manchester City in the FA Cup.
Celina provides a vital cog in Cooper’s system, as Swansea have shown a strong tendency to attack down the left-hand side of the pitch this season, with 40% of attacks coming from down the left as opposed to 22% through the middle and 38% from the right.
It will be interesting to see if Swansea can maintain their current trajectory over the course of what will be a tough Championship fixture list for the Welsh side.