Swansea V Middlesbrough at Liberty Stadium : Match Preview

01 April 2017 12:34
Swansea V Middlesbrough - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.


Paul Clement tells Swansea to aim high in push to avoid Premier League drop

Swansea boss Paul Clement has set his players a challenging points target for Premier League survival.

Forty points is typically enough for safety and Swansea are 13 short of that mark with nine games remaining.

But Clement wants more than the 42 points West Ham were relegated with at the end of the 2002-03 season - the most that any side has gone down with in a 38-game campaign.

"The highest number of points a team has gone down with is 42 so we need more than that," head coach Clement said ahead of Sunday's home game against relegation rivals Middlesbrough.

"There is pressure (in the run-in), we all feel it, but it should not be used as a negative.

"Pressure is a good thing, it keeps you alert and mind focused on the task at hand.

"And our task is to try and get more than those 42 points."

The evidence, however, suggests that 40 points should be more than enough to secure Swansea a seventh season of Premier League football.

Only three times in the previous 21 Premier League campaigns has 40 points not been enough to secure top-flight status.

And the last occasion was when West Ham were relegated under caretaker boss Trevor Brooking on the final day of the season 14 years ago.

The average number of points needed to stay up in the 13 seasons since West Ham's demotion is 35 - and beating Middlesbrough would take Swansea to within five of that mark.

Victory would also move Swansea eight points clear of Middlesbrough, although the north-east side do have a game in hand.

"(Losing) would put them in a difficult situation," Clement said.

"It would not be over for them, but it would make things more difficult.

"We seem to have this conversation every week about how important the game is.

"We had it against Palace in my first game, we had it against Leicester, Burnley, Hull and Bournemouth. This is no different."

Swansea welcome back Kyle Naughton and Martin Olsson for the game.

Right-back Naughton has missed the last two games with a hamstring problem, while left-back Olsson sat out the 2-0 defeat at Bournemouth before the international break due to an ankle injury.



Ki Sung-yueng, Jefferson Montero and Kristoffer Nordfeldt were the last three Swansea players to return from international duty and all are likely to be on the bench.

Meanwhile, Steve Agnew insists he has hardly lost a wink of sleep since being handed the task of dragging Middlesbrough back from the Premier League precipice.

The 51-year-old was asked to step into Aitor Karanka's shoes for the final 11 games of the season when the Spaniard left the Riverside Stadium on March 16 after almost three-and-a-half years in charge.

He did so with Boro deep in trouble and a game into his reign, the club are five points adrift of safety and facing a seemingly pivotal week during which they will go head-to-head with fellow strugglers Swansea and Hull inside four days.

However, Agnew is relishing the opportunity and is refusing to be bowed by the pressure of the situation he has inherited.

He said: "I genuinely don't feel the pressure. The pressure is something I enjoy and because I enjoy it, then you get through it.

"When I go home, I'm quite relaxed. I'd be lying if I said that at 4am, something didn't come into my mind, of course it does. But I'm getting more and more sleep and I'm quite relaxed about the situation.

"If you feel any pressure, then you shouldn't be involved in the game of football. It's a fast-working industry, it's something I have been involved in for a number of years and I enjoy it.

"I don't know, it doesn't feel like a pressure to me. I know we have to start winning football matches, but for me, that's an enjoyable pressure."

Central defender Daniel Ayala will return to the Middlesbrough squad for the trip.

Ayala, who has made just two league appearances since October because of injury and limped out of the 2-0 defeat at Stoke on March 4 with a hamstring problem, has returned to training and is in contention to play.

Uruguay striker Cristhian Stuani is also available after recovering from his exertions on international duty, but defenders George Friend (calf) and Calum Chambers (foot) are still out.


Source: PAR


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