Talking Tactics | Swansea City v Middlesbrough

14th December 2019
First team
George Byers

The Championship table shows that Middlesbrough are the third worst away team this season.

Boro have collected just five points from their 10 away league matches this term and are one of three teams yet to win an away game.

As such, Swansea should view the welcome of Boro today as the opportune fixture to get back to winning ways.

A battling 1-1 draw with Blackburn on Wednesday saw their winless run extend to six matches, but Jonathan Woodgate's side are, perhaps, the most accommodating opponents to get the Swans’ promotion push back on track.

Boro have failed to win their last 10 away league matches, while Swansea are unbeaten in the last four meetings between the two sides at the Liberty Stadium, winning three.

George Byers

A 3-1 win in this fixture last season is a result that would be welcomed in south Wales. Boro may be going into the clash on a run of just one defeat in their last six league matches to move four points clear of danger, but Woodgate's side have been far from convincing in the final third at all this season.

They have scored fewer goals (18) than any other Championship side this term, reinforcing a statistically-calculated weakness of 'finishing scoring chances' and having failed to score in eight of their 21 league matches in 2019-20, Swansea have the means to ensure Boro draw another blank in a Championship game this term.

The defensive minded George Byers could be crucial, then, in helping Swansea to a clean sheet and three points today.

The Scot has developed a statistically-calculated strength of 'defensive contribution', which should come as little shock to Swansea supporters. Indeed, his 2.3 tackles per 90 is the third best of all Swansea players as he works tirelessly off the ball to disrupt the flow of opponents and, in the process, create chances for himself and his team-mates.

Blackburn George Byers

Against a Middlesbrough that doesn't boast a strength and four weaknesses, three of which are defensive, Swansea and Byers can inflict further misery upon this downtrodden Boro outfit. When he does win the ball, too, the 23-year-old has the eye for a defence splitting pass with his 1.4 key passes per 90 one of the better return of all Swansea players.

With his two league goals coming at home, Byers is a hugely influential member of the Swansea side and one that has a key role to play against Middlesbrough.

While Steve Cooper has a ball winner high up the pitch, Woodgate will hope Adam Clayton can maximise his statistically-calculated strengths of 'ball interception' and ‘blocking the ball' in order to cut the lines and deny Byers and his attacking team-mates from creating goalscoring chances.

Having recently been named the man-of-the-match in Swansea's home meeting with Fulham, Byers has the means to put in another star man showing at Middlesbrough's expense and ensure the Swans get back on track on home turf.