Middlesbrough vs Swansea Preview: Relegation six-pointer at the Riverside

Middlesbrough vs Swansea Preview: Relegation six-pointer at the Riverside

After both teams conceded three goals in midweek, Boro and the Swans will hope to push on against fellow strugglers.

Dom-Brown
Dom Brown

Many eyes may be at other grounds this Saturday as Swansea City travel to the north east to take on Middlesbrough, but this is arguably the biggest game in terms of the fight for Premier League survival.

Form heading into the game

Following their heaviest defeat of the season against Liverpool, Boro boss Aitor Karanka will be hoping to change his sides fortunes when the Welsh side visit the Riverside.

Middlesbrough beat Hull City at home for only their third win of the season at the start of December, but have since lost two games on the bounce.

Bob Bradley's Swansea side have been more inconsistent with their performances, having won two and lost two of their last four. Both losses came away from home, against Tottenham and West Brom.

After many questions about his managerial history when he joined Swansea, Bradley will be hoping to prove his doubters wrong and a win against fellow relegation candidates Middlesbrough will go some way to doing so.

Key players

Middlesbrough will be hoping to provide better service to their frontman - Alvaro Negredo - than they have done in previous games, when they face Swansea at 3pm.

The former Sevilla and Manchester City striker showed against the Leicester City what he can do if given chances, scoring twice past the champions.

Gaston Ramirez (L) celebrates his winner against Hull City | Photo: Getty Images/Lindsey Parnaby
Gaston Ramirez (L) celebrates his winner against Hull City | Photo: Getty Images/Lindsey Parnaby

Boro will not find as much space to play in as they did against Leicester, so will hope Gaston Ramirez will pass a late fitness test.

The Uruguayan has missed Middlesbrough's last two games throuh injury after scoring the winner against Hull.

The visiting team will also be looking to a Spanish striker to step up and score some goals for them.

Fernando Llorente, like Negredo, is also on loan from La Liga, but has scored two more goals than the Middlesbroguh loanee.

Llorente's service has been provided mainly by Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Icelander has five league goals to his name, but is also a creative influence in the Swansea side and has been since rejoining from Tottenham in 2014.

Gylfi Sigurdsson scored a penalty in Swansea's last win v Sunderland | Photo: Getty Images/Michael Steele
Gylfi Sigurdsson scored a penalty in Swansea's last win v Sunderland | Photo: Getty Images/Michael Steele

Predicted lineups.

Middlesbrough XI: Valdes, Barragan, Chambers, Gibson, Fabio, Clayton, de Roon, Forshaw, Traore, Ramirez, Negredo

Swansea XI: Fabianski, Naughton, Mawson, Amat, Taylor, Fulton, Britton, Routledge, Sigurdsson, Montero, Llorente

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