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    Middlesborough vs Swansea Match Preview - Tight battle expected at the Riverside as the Boro host the Swans.


    Middlesborough host Swansea this weekend in a key relegation battle with both teams desperate for the points after poor recent results and both looking for momentum going into the busy Christmas period.

    On their return to the Barclays Premier League, Middlesborough started the season quite solidly showing the same defensive stability that helped the team achieve promotion last season but the cracks have started to show in recent weeks with only two wins since August and this was evident on Wednesday night when Liverpool steamrolled them on the night finishing 3-0 victors in the process.

    Swansea's season has been a huge disappointment to supporters after a disastrous start to the season under Francesco Guidolin which ended up with the Italian being sacked in September. Since then Bob Bradley has taken over the reigns but unfortunately results haven't picked up and the defensive errors have kept occurring with on average three goals a game conceded since the American has taken over.

    Swansea are unbeaten in their last three fixture against Middlesborough, with there last fixture against each other back in 2012 in the EFL cup where the Swans were 1-0 victors on the day but this is the first ever Premier League fixture between these two sides.

    Bob Bradley has a huge challenge on his hands to keep the Swans up this year.

    Tactical Analysis

    Middlesborough

    Aitor Karanka is expected to stick with the same shape as he has over the last month with a defensively solid 4-3-3 with Adam Clayton, Adam Forshaw and Marten De Roon providing a tough midfield trio for Swansea to contain with. If Karanka does decide to mix things up this could see a change to a 4-2-3-1 which was used earlier in the season which could see Stewart Downing come into the side with one of the midfield trio being replaced.

    Swansea

    At the Liberty Stadium, Bob Bradley has been playing 4-2-3-1 with Fernando Llorente playing up front with Gylfi Sigurdsson just behind in his favoured position causing havoc for visiting defences. Away from home though Swansea have played 4-4-3 with Sigurdsson playing as a false nine which worked has worked well at times but against Tottenham he was left isolated and was often found too deep to collect the ball. It will be interesting to see how Swansea line up at the RIverside with this being a very winnable game.

    Ben Gibson has been a rock at the back for Middlesborough this season.

    Team News

    Middlesborough

    Middlesborough will have George Friend back from injury, the left back has missed the last five games and has been missed greatly and should replace Fabio in the starting eleven. Gaston Ramirez will have a late fitness test before kick off after missing the last two games due to a foot injury sustained against Hull. Christian Stuani is the only player definetley out as the forward has an infected foot.

    Predicted Team - Valdes, Barragan, Chambers, Gibson, Friend, Clayton, Forshaw, De Roon, Traore, Fischer, Negredo. 

    Jack Cork could get a recall to the Swansea side this weekend.

    Swansea

    Federico Fernandez and Ki Sung Yeung are still absent from the Swansea squad with both suffering from broken toes. Other then that Bob Bradley has the same squad to pick from which lost at the Hawthorns on Wednesday night but the American may rotate the squad with Modou Barrow and Jack Cork getting recalls to the side for this relegation battle.

    Predicted Team - Fabianski, Naughton, Mawson, Amat, Taylor, Britton, Cork, Routledge, Sigurdsson, Barrow, Llorente.

    Key Men to Watch

    Middlesborough - Adama Traore

    Once hailed as one of the best prospects to come out of the world famous Barcelona academy, for one reason or another it hasnt quite worked for the youngster and this was summed up with last seasons move to Aston Villa which proved to be a mistake as he failed to settle and only played in a handful of games. The summer move to Tyneside had come as bit of a shock to supporters but after numerous impressive performances since coming into the side, Traore has become an integral part of this team with his pace causing many defences nightmares.

    Adama Traore has been a bright spark for Middlesborough this season.

    Swansea - Gylfi Sigurdsson

    Swansea's main man for the last three seasons and the Iceland international has again been pivotal to the the Swans. Sigurdsson has had a hand in 50% of the goals this season with five goals and five assists and he will be imperative for Swansea if they are to survive and stay up this season.


    Kick Off - 3:00 (UK)
    Venue - The Riverside Stadium (Middlesborough)


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    Item Reviewed: Middlesborough vs Swansea Match Preview - Tight battle expected at the Riverside as the Boro host the Swans. Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Mark Taylor
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