Talking Tactics | Fulham v Swansea City

28th September 2021
First team
Flynn Downes Talking Tactics

After the morale boost of a 1-0 win over Huddersfield, attention turns to Swansea City's midweek trip to Fulham in a huge game in the Championship.

The Swans have a decent record at Craven Cottage, but know the scale of the challenge they face against big-spending promotion favourites.

Ahead of this clash, preview the midweek action, including what to expect from Fulham, the key battle and a key stat.

What to expect from Fulham

Marco Silva

Fulham head into the midweek round of games four points off top spot after being held to a 1-1 draw at Bristol City, this despite peppering the Robins' goal across the 90 minutes.

Nevertheless, the stalemate means the Cottagers have won just one of their last four league outings and have lost ground to some of their rivals.

However, we're unlikely to see a change in tactics from Marco Silva as his side look to get another three points on the board.

Fulham have earned a better rating (6.92) than any other Championship team this season. The west London side will seek to dominate the ball, with their possession average of 61.1% the third best in the division and a pass success rate of 84.1% second only to the Swans (84.8%) in England's second tier.

Silva has favoured a 4-2-3-1 setup this term, with the duo of Jean Michael Seri and Josh Onomah shielding the backline and allowing for Fabio Carvalho to impress behind striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.

However, part of the reason for Fulham's recent downturn in form has been the absence of Carvalho, with the teenager set to miss the welcome of Swansea through injury.

Of the five games he has started, Fulham have won four but, in his absence, the west London side have won just one of four, with their goals scored per game dropping from 2.6 to 1.5, and goals conceded per game rising from 0.6 to 1.25.

That doesn't mean a guaranteed three points for the Swans at Craven Cottage, where they have, to be fair, won three of their last four games, but Carvalho's absence is a boost for Russell Martin's side.

Fulham rank top for key passes per game (14) in the Championship this season and with Carvalho among their chief creators, Silva will be hoping to see some key players step up and find a way through a Swansea rearguard that has kept five clean sheets this season.

Nevertheless, Fulham will seek to dominate possession on home turf and wait for their moment to strike as they seek to get their promotion push back on track.

Key battle

Flynn Downes

Winning the midfield battle at Craven Cottage will be key for Swansea in midweek.

Fortunately, Flynn Downes heads into the clash on the back of his best rated performance for the south Wales side. Indeed, Downes earned a rating of 7.53 in Swansea's hard-fought 1-0 win over Huddersfield on Saturday and, with 55% of the vote, was named the fans' man of the match from the narrow victory having dominated in the middle of the park.

Dominating on the ball is a key trait to the 22-year-old's game and is a major reason why Swansea rank so high for possession and pass success rate in the Championship this season.

Indeed, Downes has developed a statistically calculated strength of 'passing' and for good reason, too, as he ranks sixth for passes per game (70.7) and second for pass accuracy (92.7%) in the Championship at the time of writing.

Downes also boasts strengths of 'ball interception' and 'tackling', so is as capable a performer off the ball as he is on it, and these additional qualities to his game need to be on show in order to ensure Fulham pass machine Jean Michael Seri is unable to dictate the tempo for Silva's side.

The Ivorian was a surprise signing back in 2018 yet, after loan stints with Galatasaray and Bordeaux, returned to Craven Cottage to become a mainstay.

Seri ranks third for passes per game (65.5) and first for pass success rate (89.9%) of all Fulham players in the Championship this season, and fourth in the division overall, to reinforce a strength of 'passing', while an additional strength of 'dribbling' means he is able to carry the ball upfield to help shake off opposition pressure and open up angles for the attack to exploit.

Shutting him down is of the utmost importance if Swansea are to secure all the spoils this week.

Key stat

Aleksandar Mitrovic

While Fulham were unable to get the better of Bristol City over the weekend, it wasn't for want of trying.

The Cottagers mustered 22 shots in the stalemate, nine of which were through Aleksandar Mitrovic, that a record in a Championship match at the time of writing.

To go with his goal, the Serb struck the woodwork twice in an unlucky afternoon for the striker.