Talking tactics: Barrie McKay

26th January 2019
First team

Football stats experts take a closer look at the form of Barrie McKay as Swansea City prepare to host Gillingham in the fourth round of the FA Cup today (3pm).

Swansea threw a spanner in the works as far as the Championship title race goes as they landed a hard-fought 1-0 win over Sheffield United on home turf last weekend.

Graham Potter’s side are now unbeaten in their last five, winning three, including a resounding 3-0 win at Aston Villa to book a fourth-round spot in the FA Cup and attention now turns to the domestic knock-out competition. As such, have previewed today’s meeting with League One outfit Gillingham.

The Gills sprung an FA Cup upset to overcome Premier League side Cardiff City earlier this month to secure their spot in the hat and set up a meeting with the Swans in their bid to land a place in the next round of the competition.

However, they’re coming up against a Swansea side on their longest unbeaten run of the season under Potter and one with their tails up, so Gillingham face a mountainous task in their bid to overcome Swansea here.

History is on Swansea’s side, too, with the south Wales side unbeaten in their last three meetings with Gillingham, winning two, and the hosts will be confident of maximising home advantage to make it four wins from their last five.

The League One side won’t make things easy for their Championship counterparts, though, with the Gills winning five of their last seven away matches in all competitions.

That being said, Gillingham have conceded in eight of their last 10 away matches, so they’re very much far from perfect at the back, and Swansea must capitalise on these defensive shortcomings to keep up their momentum.

Only three teams have shipped more goals than Gillingham (48) in League One this season and their frailties in defence could come back to haunt the Gills at the Liberty Stadium today.

With Barrie McKay showing some fine form of late, the winger will hope to churn out a match-winning display to prove to Potter he warrants regular game time.

Indeed, no Swansea player has registered more assists than the 24-year-old (4) in the Championship this season, while 1.5 key passes per 90 minutes ranks third of all Swansea players this term.

What’s more, Swansea have developed a statistically calculated strength of ‘attacking down the wings’ and utilising this trait to their offensive play could prove crucial.

Nine of McKay’s 13 league starts this season have come down either the right or left flank and his trickery out wide and creative quality can help put the Gillingham backline to the sword and guarantee Swansea a spot in the next round of the FA Cup in the process.