Talking tactics: Oli McBurnie

3rd November 2018
First team

Football stats experts focus on Oli McBurnie ahead of Swansea City's Championship clash with Rotherham United this afternoon (3pm).

Back-to-back league wins over Blackburn Rovers and Reading have propelled Swansea to within two points of the Championship play-off places.

Now the Swans take on a Rotherham side who sit just two points above the relegation zone having failed to win in eight games.

However, they have lost just three of those matches and have been beaten only once in the last six.

Three successive draws have helped keep Rotherham’s head above water for the time being and, at their New York Stadium, they have fallen to defeat just the once.

On paper, this looks like a good chance of a win for the Swans, but Rotherham must not be underestimated on home turf.

The Swans’ away form has been questionable to say the least of late but, with the team really starting to click and key men returning to form, a third successive league win is within their grasp.

The Millers have conceded just six home league goals this term, so the Swans need to dig deep if they are to come away from today’s match victorious.

With main forward Oliver McBurnie back among the goals, though, Graham Potter’s side have the means to put Rotherham to the sword and secure all the spoils.

The Scot netted twice in last week’s 2-0 win over Reading to take his total for the season to six in the Championship.

Only Neal Maupay (18) and Lewis Grabban (16) have scored more Championship goals than McBurnie (15) in 2018, with his man-of-the-match showing against the Royals enough to secure a spot in the Championship team of the week with a 8.76 rating.

He’ll once again be the focal point of the Swansea attack this weekend and it could be that his aerial dominance is the key for success.

While only one of his six league goals this season has been a header, a return of 3.5 aerial duels won per game is commendable.

Four of the six statistically calculated weaknesses Rotherham have developed are defensive-focused and they include ‘avoiding fouling in dangerous areas’ and ‘defending against set-pieces’.

Five of the 21 goals Rotherham have conceded this season have been from set-piece situations, so if Swansea can win free-kicks in the final third, picking out McBurnie could be a good route to goal.

A rating of 7.11 is the third best of all Swans players and if McBurnie can maintain his good form in front of goal, then Rotherham will struggle to contain him.

Rotherham centre-back Semi Ajayi is expected to the be the man tasked with stopping McBurnie having played every minute in the Championship this season.

Like McBurnie, Ajayi is winning 3.5 aerial duels per game, so the aerial battle between these two is well worth keeping an eye today.

You get the impression that whoever comes out on top in this clash could be key to the result.

McBurnie has the wind in his sails after last week’s display and a similar performance would give the Swans a good chance of securing a third successive league.