Talking Tactics | Middlesbrough v Swansea City

4th December
First team
Jamie Paterson Talking Tactics

The Swans have endured disappointment against Reading and, after winning just one of their last four, they will look to get back to winning ways against a Middlesbrough side adjusting to life under a new boss.

Ahead of this one, preview the action, including what to expect from Boro, the key battle and a key stat.

What to expect from Middlesbrough

Chris Wilder

Today's welcome of Swansea will mark Chris Wilder's fourth league game at the Middlesbrough helm. Wilder came in as Neil Warnock's replacement at the Riverside last month and, in his three games in charge, Boro have claimed four points.

Their sole victory, though, did come last time out at Huddersfield, a 2-1 win ending a five-game winless run, and you can be sure Middlesbrough will seek to use that success as a foundation to build upon.

However, a consistent has been the use of a three-man backline at the Riverside. Wilder has used the setup in his three games in charge, a system Boro have used in 13 of their 20 league matches, so don't expect much in the way of change of formation against Swansea.

In the infancy of Wilder's reign at the club, it's hard to fully determine their style of play, but Boro remain one of the most creative sides in the league.

They have developed a statistically calculated strength of 'creating scoring chances' and it is easy to see why given Boro rank sixth for key passes per game (9.3) of all Championship sides this season.

The Teessider's maximise their creative talents to good effect, with Marcus Tavernier (1.5) and Matt Crooks (1.4) ranking first and second, respectively, for key passes per game of all Boro players.

The duo rank among the top five best rated players for Boro according to's ranking system, with Crooks (7.12) and Tavernier (6.92) impressing for the Championship side this term.

If the Swansea defence is able to keep the duo in check this weekend, then it'll limit Boro's chances of claiming a second successive win.

Key battle

Jamie Paterson

Jamie Paterson underwent a trial with Boro over the summer following his Bristol City release but, when he did not land a contract with the Teesside outfit, Swansea made their move for the 29-year-old.

Paterson is certainly repaying the faith shown in him by the Swans. The creator is Swansea's top-rated player with a rating of 7.04 and has had a direct hand in 12 goals this season, netting eight times.

Of those eight goals, five have come on the road - only two players have scored more away goals this term - and Paterson would love nothing more than to add to that record at the Riverside.

With a strength of 'finishing', it wouldn't be a shock to see Paterson get among the goals against a Boro side that has shipped 12 home goals, one of the poorer returns in the division.

Of course, Boro do have the midfield personnel to try to minimise Paterson's impact at the Riverside. Not only are Tavernier and Crooks capable creators, but they work hard off the ball, too, as they rank joint-second of all Boro players for tackles per game (2.1) with midfield partner Jonny Howson (2.4) topping this metric.

Key stat

Boro have kept a respectable six clean sheets in the Championship this season - for context, Bournemouth and Birmingham (both 10) have returned the most ahead of gameweek 21 - but of late, that defensive resolve has not been maintained to the level they would wish.

Indeed, Boro haven't shut out an opponent since a 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Cardiff in mid-October, a run of six games without a clean sheet.