Talking Tactics | Swansea City v Middlesbrough

5th March 2021
First team
Ryan Manning Talking Tactics

Football stats experts take a close look at the form of Ryan Manning, and asses the impact he could make in Swansea City's weekend clash with Middlesbrough.

The battle to finish in the automatic promotion spots is heating up nicely. Brentford occupy second as things stand, but a 1-0 loss to Norwich, combined with Watford's win over Wycombe and Swansea's victory at Stoke, means just a point separates the trio as we come into the final weeks of the season.

On paper at least, Swansea have the upper hand. While they sit fourth, they have two games in hand over Brentford and Watford, but they need to keep up the pace with the pair if they are to ultimately leapfrog the duo into second.

Up next for the Swans is the welcome of Middlesbrough and, after defeat in their last home league match against Bristol City, it's important Steve Cooper's side get back to winning ways at the Liberty Stadium.

Swansea come into the clash unbeaten in their last five home meetings with Middlesbrough, winning four, though Neil Warnock's side have been in good form on the road of late, winning back-to-back away matches.

The Swans will be aware of the challenge facing them, as they target another valuable three points.

One man who could feature prominently for the hosts is Ryan Manning.

He made just just fourth league start of the season at Stoke in midweek, but provided a key assist in the 2-1 win at the bet365 Stadium, teeing up Connor Roberts midway through the first half for the Welshman to bag his fourth league goal of the campaign.

Manning's creative qualities are evident in his strengths of 'crossing' and 'key passes', with the 24-year-old maximising the latter quality from the off of late having provided at least one assist in each of his last three competitive starts for Cooper's side.

Despite only registering 446 minutes of league action in 2020-21, only three players have registered more assists than Manning of all Swansea players this season, which speaks volumes of his attacking ability and the south Wales side will need Manning to be at his very best in the final third against Boro.

Should Cooper keep faith with Manning at left wing-back, which would mean a place on the bench for Jake Bidwell once more, then Djed Spence is likely to be the man tasked with limiting the Swansea star's influence when he does get forward.

Spence earned a rating of 7.66 in Boro's recent 2-1 win at Coventry, that his second best rating in a Championship match this season, so he will come into clash in south Wales with his confidence high.

However, Manning has proven to be a difficult player to contain and, if he is handed the chance to prove his worth once more, you can be sure he'll grab the opportunity with both hands as Swansea look to strengthen their promotion credentials on Saturday.