This is a tactical analysis of Jamal Lowe as a winger. Rumours were linking Lowe with a move to Celtic, but Swansea City signed him for a fee of £800,000 from Wigan Athletic. Swansea City’s fans hope Lowe will contribute to the team’s attempts in the upcoming season to gain promotion to the EPL. This scout report looks at Lowe’s style of play with and without the ball, his positioning and movements, and his weaknesses.
His role in the team
Jamal Lowe is a winger with good pace, especially in the first metres of his run, which gives him the advantage of momentum against his markers. Lowe is a tall and well-built player, which makes him physically difficult to face. Lowe could be a useful tool for many managers, as he can play on both flanks, as a striker, and as a second striker, too. That makes him a player who can fit into many different tactics and roles within a team.
Lowe when his team does not have the ball
Starting this analysis when Lowe is in the opponent’s half, we can see that Lowe tries to press the opposition team. He is coming in narrowly from a wide position to mark the defender and restrict a pass into that area. It is important to block that pass, because, if the opposing team manages to make it, they can make a high-pressure break, and the opposing team is in danger because of the spaces in between the lines. In the picture below, we can see exactly that: Lowe is coming narrow and tries to block a possible transfer of the ball into that area. Moreover, Lowe’s positioning high up the pitch is good, which helps him to intercept the ball and regain control of the ball for his team. The modern football team needs all players to contribute with and without the ball; therefore a winger needs to have technical abilities like dribbling, crossing, and shooting, and should also have the ability to play and contribute to his team without the ball. Thus, for example, a winger should make interceptions high up the field when the opponent tries to break lines with his passes or needs to have the stamina to help the full-back in deeper defensive positions. In the picture below, we can see Lowe intercepting a pass that the opponent is trying to complete.
Here, again, we can see Lowe tackling the ball and regaining possession of it for his team. A team must regain control of the ball, especially higher up the field, as this would find the opponents less organised.
Lowe likes to come deep, helping the team to play the ball out of the back. In that way, he becomes a king of the link-up play between the defensive and attacking lines. His physical characteristics allow him to receive the ball under pressure, whilst having his back to the opponent’s goal. It is not easy for the opponent to face Lowe when he does this, because he can use his body efficiently to protect the ball. The picture below is showing us Lowe coming deep and receiving a pass from the defensive line. He has already received the ball, and it seems that he is in an advantageous position, compared with his marker.
Additionally, Lowe has the ability and the technique for feints and sharp moves in the final third of the field. It is important for a winger to overcome his marker in tight situations. By doing so, a winger can either create a chance for the striker with a good delivery from the wide areas, or even takes their chances and shoot at goal, if they are in a beneficial position in or around the box. In the picture below, we can see Lowe demonstrating a sharp move between two opponents. Lowe is creating space for himself and then intends to score with a shot from a good position.
We previously mentioned that Lowe can play in many different positions in his team’s attack; one was a second striker. Therefore, we can see Lowe coming narrow behind the striker, trying to receive the ball. From that position, we can see Lowe either passing or driving the ball into free spaces. By doing this, Lowe can look to drag an opponent towards him. In that way, he then creates space for another team and then, at the right time, he passes the ball. Below, we can see Lowe driving and trying to take advantage of the free space.
Another thing that Lowe does well is that he prefers playing quick balls. He likes passing the ball and instantly moving it vertically up the field. When he receives the ball, he makes a little drive and tries to retain control of it. With that backward drive, there are a lot of chances for the marker to follow him. In this way, Lowe creates space for himself: he will pass at the right moment, and then he will run vertically up the field to expose the free space behind his marker. In the picture below, we can see an example of this: Lowe is receiving the ball and is driving it backwards, with his marker following him. Therefore, when Lowe passes the ball, he has more space to take advantage of behind his opponent.
For a winger, it is important to have a good pace. Wingers need speed to expose free spaces behind the defensive lines of the opponent. This is what Lowe is trying to do: he is starting his movement between the halfspaces, and he moves that way to receive the ball behind them. By doing so, Lowe achieves two things: firstly, his move between the halfspaces gives him an advantage over the opponents, who will lose time to decide who is going to mark him, which is the main problem with zonal marking. Secondly, Lowe’s speed and explosivity in the first metres gives him an advantage in these situations. The picture below is showing Lowe starting his move and trying to receive the ball on the left flank behind the defensive line.
Moreover, when the ball is on the opposite side of the field, Lowe steps into the box and takes up a position at the far post. In that way, he tries to take advantage of the delivery into the far post, or any possible rebound due to a bad defensive reaction. Wingers must take such positions in the box in similar situations, because, in that way, they not only give more options to the carrier of the ball to pass to but also they create an extra problem for the defenders to solve. Here, we can see Lowe coming to the second post. The last defender should take the right decision on which opponent is going to mark.
It was mentioned earlier that Lowe is a player who can move and play within many different roles during the game. While analysing him in this report, we watched him receiving the ball deep and wide and in the central axis of the field, giving us an idea of his ability to adjust to new roles. Moreover, Lowe is also moving behind the striker. That gives his team more flexibility because the striker can come deep and support the team, while in the possession, and at the same, they will have a second striker in position. This kind of flexibility is useful for teams, as the opponent has to adjust all the time to those innovations, and are more likely to make a bad decision that could lead to a goalscoring chance. The two pictures below are showing exactly that: the striker is coming deep to link up, whilst Lowe is trying to take advantage of the free space behind him, which is something that is happening in the final third of the field.
Despite his interceptions in the middle third of the field, Lowe must improve his game when defending. He has to contribute more while defending in the final third of the field and closer to his team’s goal. That will provide the full-back with greater aid as they will not be as exposed by the opponent’s full-backs and wingers. The picture below is showing Lowe coming deep, but making the challenge impatiently, which makes him an easy opponent to overcome with a feint.
A second thing that Lowe should improve also comes in the defensive part of his game. That is his ability to track the movements of the opponents’ players behind him. This is a very important indicator, as it will help Lowe to intercept more balls that are targeting the areas behind him. The picture below is showing a similar situation: Lowe is going to mark the carrier of the ball without patience, which gives the opponent the advantage. Lowe is not aware that he has opponents behind him, and this is the reason why he steps out aggressively.
Lowe is a talented player who can handle many different roles within a team, which makes him useful for managers. These kinds of players are likely to fit into teams, as the managers can use them in different ways tactically during the game. Lowe has good technique and pace for a winger, and his movements without the ball show intelligence and knowledge of the game, but he needs to improve his defensive contribution to the team, especially in the final third of the field.