Talking Tactics | Andre Ayew
Football stats experts WhoScored identify Andre Ayew as a key man in Swansea City's Championship fixture against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium this afternoon (12.30pm).
The Championship makes its grand return today with Swansea City in action to signal its resumption. There has been no football in England's second tier since early March and a host of teams will be hoping to maximise the break in action to push on in the remaining weeks of the season.
Swansea are one of those and they will be out to claim a league double over Middlesbrough at the Riverside this afternoon.
Victory would see the Swans move level with Preston in sixth as Steve Cooper's side chase a play-off finish. With just three points separating sixth and 11th in the Championship, there is all to play for in the final weeks of the delayed campaign.
Pre-lockdown form is hardly a true marker on how a side will fare upon the league's return, but Boro were poor before the three-month break in play. Indeed, Jonathan Woodgate had overseen a six-match winless run on home turf before lockdown, and only Hull (one) had taken fewer points at home than Boro (four) in that run.
The Swans' away form may not make for great reading, yet they'll fancy their chances of doing the double over Boro when they clash at lunch time. Swansea picked up a 3-1 win over Boro when these two met at the Liberty Stadium back in December, with Andre Ayew netting twice and loanee Sam Surridge wrapping up a comfortable victory prior to Christmas. While Surridge has since returned to Bournemouth, Ayew continues to shine for the Swans.
The Ghana star earned the WhoScored.com man of-the-match award from that victory as he came away with a WhoScored.com rating of 8.97, that his second best rated performance in a Championship match this season. Only Eberechi Eze (nine) has earned more WhoScored.com man of the match awards than Ayew (seven) in the second tier this season and Cooper must be hoping the 30-year-old can add to that return in the north east today.
With 12 goals and five assists to his name, Ayew is Swansea's top scorer and joint-top creator this term, while a WhoScored.com rating of 7.29 is better than any other Swans player in 2019-20.
In good form pre-lockdown, Ayew is looking to continue where he left off today and given one of Middlesbrough's statistically-calculated WhoScored.com weaknesses is 'defending against attacks down the wings', the experienced forward has the means to really trouble Boro.
Ayew is backed to start on the left wing this afternoon and with a majority of Swansea's attacks coming down the left (41 per cent), he has what it takes to put this Boro side to the sword and the Ghanaian must be rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of facing such a hospitable opponent to kick off the Championship's return.