FanView: Why Paul Clement Should Be More Worried About Attack Than Defence in His Swansea Imbalance

Publish date:

Tuesday night was a cause for concern for Paul Clement and Swansea following on from their Carabao Cup defeat against Manchester United. The injury to the club's only specialist left-back in Martin Olsson has resulted in the defensive options within the side being rather stretched.

The Swans are currently stuck with three fit centre-halves, two right-backs and no left-back. Such is the imbalance within the squad that Clement will likely resort to dragging central midfielder Sam Clucas into defence to fill in for Olsson against Arsenal on Saturday - likely having to deal with the link up between Mesut Ozil and Hector Bellerin.

Of course, after the final whistle was blown against United, Clement was quick to point out the defensive difficulties that his team will face in the coming weeks as Olsson's hamstring injury is looked at. While this is a definite concern, and the manager has called for his side to need 'beefing up' in January, its shifted the focus away from the more prominent problem: going forward.

It's frustrating from a Swansea perspective because there's no simple fix to this problem until January. When Gylfi Sigurdsson left the club, Clement decided to sign a couple of players rather than directly replace him - assuring fans that all would be fine.

All is not fine, and the price is being paid. The summer saw three new central midfielders join the Swans - Roque Mesa, Sam Clucas and Renato Sanches; none of which can fill in as a number 10.


This problem splits into two. Without Sigurdsson, the club are left with no playmaker. No filter between midfield and attack - no one to dictate what goes on in the final third; this is obvious in Swansea's play. The players make it to midfield and have no idea what to do with the ball; the strikers become isolated, the midfielders sit too deep with no tempo to their play and ultimately, the attack dies prematurely more often than not.

Now, the extra midfield signings cause another problem. Swansea have eight central midfielders at the club right now - all fit. With only three positions occupying the middle of the park, five players are missing out each week. This brings the need for rotation, and lots of it. In turn, this results in a lack of chemistry.

The first thing that Clement did when he arrived into South Wales last January was bring consistency - and it worked! Results picked up, Swansea survived. That now seems to be gone and they're back to that Bob Bradley horror show of not knowing who to play. Link up play is poor, players don't know what their teammates are doing and that has been blindingly obvious in the matches against Leicester and United.

While the defence might need beefing up, sadly the midfield needs to be cleared a little. Think of the imbalance as a see-saw; picture eight players sat on one side, and the five fit defenders on the other. Granted, Alfie Mawson is quite a bulky man and would weigh a fair bit - but the midfield would be sat firmly on the floor. At least two players need to go.

One choice is easy - either sell or loan out Jay Fulton. The Scotsman is easily offering the least to the squad, and he doesn't seem to be close to improving any time soon. Leon Britton is ageing, and likely won't be around in a couple of seasons, but if Clement removed him from the picture there would genuinely be riots down Wind Street. Leroy Fer and Tom Carroll have earned a spot in the six, plus Britton makes three places occupied.


Now, Ki Sung-Yueng's contract expires at the end of the season and Renato Sanches will be gone come June; Roque Mesa has spoken of possibly going out on loan in January and Sam Clucas is very versatile, so removing him from the picture would be silly.

Don't forget - Swans still need a playmaker. The likes of Nacer Chadli and Jonathan Viera were linked over summer, and either one of them could come in and bridge the gap between midfield and attack.

It's a headache, but one that the boss brought on himself; and he needs to fix it as soon as possible - even if that means upsetting certain individuals.

To conclude, Paul Clement needs to: sign a new left-back, remove a couple of players in the engine room and finally bring in a serviceable replacement for Gylfi Sigurdsson. 

At this rate, it looks like it's going to be a long wait for January.