Boro v Swans: The big talking points

21st September 2018
First team

​​​​​​​Swansea City will look to put their contentious defeat at Stoke behind them when they go to Middlesbrough this weekend.

Here are all the main discussion points heading into another challenging away game.

 

Hard to call

Graham Potter raised a few eyebrows by making seven changes to his team at Stoke on Tuesday night.

So will there be another mass reshuffle this weekend, with a number of the players who were left out coming back into the side?

It is a hard one to call.

Potter insisted the alterations he made at Stoke were nothing to do with planning for the Middlesbrough game.

Injuries were a factor, of course, and the Swans have a couple of Tuesday’s absentees back in contention for Middlesbrough in the shape of Jay Fulton and Tom Carroll.

Regardless of who is available, it is not easy to second guess how Potter will go in terms of personnel or formation.

But certainly, the likes of Joe Rodon, Barrie McKay and Oli McBurnie will be hoping for recalls.

 

Goals galore?

In truth, the records of these two sides so far this season suggest we may not be in for a goalfest this weekend.

Joe Allen’s winner for Stoke – which should not have stood – was just the sixth goal the Swans have conceded in eight Championship games in 2018-19.

Only leaders Leeds (five goals) and Middlesbrough (just three) have conceded on fewer occasions in the second tier so far.

Tony Pulis is renowned for building teams who are hard to break down, while the Swans have been a tough nut to crack in the early stages of the campaign.

It would be a surprise, therefore, if there is a flurry of goals this weekend.

 

Pulis power

The Swans have not had much joy when facing Pulis teams away from South Wales down the years.

The vastly experienced Boro boss, who hails from Newport, has made a habit of upsetting his countrymen in his various managerial posts.

Pulis has not had a great deal of success when bringing teams to Swansea, but it has been a different story when his sides have been at home.

Pulis’s West Brom won twice and drew twice with the Swans at The Hawthorns.

His Stoke side beat the Swans in both their meetings at what was then the Britannia Stadium, while he also had a 100 per cent home record against the men from SA1 while at Gillingham.

You have to go all the way back to Pulis’s first managerial role, at Bournemouth, to find a couple of home defeats to the Swans, in 1992-93 and 1993-94.

Potter’s Swans will be looking for the hat-trick this weekend.

 

Teesside triumphs

The Swans’ last trip to Middlesbrough, during Bob Bradley’s brief Liberty reign, saw them suffer a miserable 3-0 defeat.

But prior to that, the Swans have had some better days in the red corner of the North East.

Their previous visit was a classic, as Brendan Rodgers’s team fought back from 3-1 down to win 4-3 as they took another step towards promotion from the Championship in 2011.

Craig Beattie scored a memorable last-gasp winner that day after earlier efforts from Nathan Dyer, Scott Sinclair and Ashley Williams.

The Swans drew 1-1 at Boro in 2010, while Frank Burrows’s team pulled off an FA Cup shock on the club’s previous visit back in 1995.

It is worth noting, however, that Boro are yet to drop a point on home soil this season, having beaten Sheffield United, Birmingham, West Brom and Bolton.

 

Swans off target

After last weekend’s goalless draw at Forest and the 1-0 midweek loss at Stoke, the Swans have failed to score in successive league games for the first time in Potter’s short reign.

In both those games, Potter acknowledged that his team could have done more going forward.

Nothing will come easy against Pulis’s formidable Boro side, but the Swans must improve in the final third if they are to have any joy.