Luton Town 2-0 Coventry City
That was a long 10 days, wasn't it? As is said often, it's the hope that kills you. Not to be too downtrodden, but this felt like another game Coventry just didn't have an answer for.
Interestingly, Luton have mixed things up somewhat, from 4 at the back to beat Forest, to a 3 at the back versus Coventry. It looks as though they have adjusted their line-ups to match their opponent more this season.
For Coventry, there were 10 days to prepare for this match. Accurately it would have been 5/6 once the Rotherham game was called off, but 10 days of no competition. I think Coventry have been too predictable this season and this might have been an opportunity to change that. Predictable, in this instance, is that the same starting team that beat Derby is used again. Same setup, same approach.
Here you can see the formations matching. The three circles centrally are the midfield triangle for Luton. You can't see the near side because of the camera angle, but it mirrors Clark/Dabo at the top of the picture. Note how the strikers are split, allowing McFadzean to have the ball. Anything from here is predictable and the central ball to Hamer is eventually won by Luton.
When Luton forced the mistakes, which came from longer balls, they were already in positions to attack.
Luton wins the ball in transition. Dewsbury-Hall pulls out, taking James with him creating central space. The ball goes long to the wingback, Bree.
You can see width created by Bree as soon as Luton win the ball. Again, you see the deep 5 of Coventry, with Kelly providing a cover. Yet, good control from Bree here would result in a 3v3.
Trends I use trends, as much as possible, in-game analysis. Whilst a single mistake could be an important moment, typically a goal, it's difficult to 'analyze'. Take the handball. Whilst McFadzean did what anyone would do, let's look at Wilson. Love him or hate him, he's come in for a little more criticism as of late and in this game, it's understandable. Though I think individual criticism should only be applied if someone acts stupid, or kicks the ball in their own net (Coventry hit their own post twice after a Luton corner, and then flicked another on to their own bar later on - there would be some direct criticism), it is still complex. Example. You might argue that Wilson should have made the save for the first goal. It went just under his left arm. I would agree. Though look at the trend of how Coventry have failed game after game to find ways to break an opponent down:
Coventry were in possession, probing just inside the attacking third. One poor pass is collected by Luton. There was a moment of sloppy play, but it pulled Dabo out of position. In doing so, Ostigard moves to provide cover, and as the team shifts across, it creates a 2v1 at the back post, giving Bree the space to score. The trend? Coventry is unable to break an opponent down.
The second goal and McFadzean's red came from Coventry's ability to hurt themselves. The ball with Hyam. He plays back to Wilson. From the still, below, it looks as though there should be no problem in clearing the ball or even playing through the Luton line. However, Luton were organized to make Coventry predictable, and with Wilson being suspect at building out, any ball back to him is an optimum time to press.
The press resulted in Luton winning a throw-in deep in the Coventry half. The cross that resulted lead to Wilson flapping at the ball, and it fell to Cornick for his shot that McFadzean was adjudged to have handled.
Long-term trend Trends are also good for long-term analysis. Here is a common trend for Coventry with a back three against an opponent that has dropped off, or after a transition moment. And always down the Coventry left with Hyam.
The ball is predictably played inside and mistakes like this have cost goals previously with the LBC being out of position. The ball was bounced back by James and results in Kelly scrambling back to clear the ball. Noteworthy, the ball was played into this space by Wilson - you might argue another moment that puts unneccessary pressure on the Coventry line as they go nowhere.
Another long-term trend, mentioned already, has been the inability to break down teams. Minus the two early chances for Biamou, Coventry achieved just 6 more attempts on goal. Compare that to 20 total for Luton.
A benefit to using wingbacks is the ability to spread the field, and pin the opponent deeper. Sustained control of the ball with a midfield three should allow the team to advance and get the right players in the right area. Yet, here you see Kelly driving into the space and at the back line of Luton. Dabo is in support, but Biamou has peeled outside (as he often does on the right) leaving no target centrally, minus O'Hare scrambling to break into the box. Everything about this moment should demonstrate the clash of style of play and formation.
8 chances on goal in the entire game. After the exciting action early on from Biamou, Coventry were stopped successfully by an organized Luton team playing against 10 men. Biamou had two chances to put Coventry ahead, and it was a promising phase of the game. The first clear-cut chance came on 12 when Biamou hits the post after a breakaway.
In an almost identical moment, Biamou gets between Naismith and Pearson with Rea out of position, receives the ball and manages to put it wide.
45 can see the new shape for Coventry (4-4 diamond -1)
I think this worked better given the organization - image shows match-ups with Kelly offering support to cb's and fb's able to get out to the wingers. No goals conceded...!
Into the second half, it was tough for Coventry with a few moments of joy. One in particular was O'Hare running beyond a flick on from Biamou, and is something we are all craving more of. There was a shape change, but there is argument for it working better than the original shape. Kelly is providing cover to Ostigard and Hyam, whilst Dabo and McCallum could get out to the wingbacks. Coventry defender well, but the issue: Coventry's attack faulters with no width and an isolated single striker.
Walker and Godden joined the game for some minutes, but that's all it really was. Up next is Wycombe. You would presume Coventry to have more of the ball and likely more 'control' in that game. Following another trend, and the opportunity/need to win, I expect Coventry to adjust the lineup and go with two strikers (thinking Godden and Biamou) to get at Wycombe and seize the opportunity. A back four might also be on the cards, having seen how Coventry dealt with the wing-backs when playing in a back four and one man down. With McFadzean suspended (pending appeal for using his chest?) it might make the most sense with Rose off the pace.
Address those trends. Work on a build out and style of play that compliments the formation. Patient possession centrally with 3 will give the wingbacks opportunity to get forward and be in the right spaces. A second striker with Biamou will allow him to play the connecter, whilst we don't miss a true second striker. Where does O'Hare fit in that? It would likely result in James being dropped.
What do you think?