Analysing Adam Forshaw's dominant performance in Middlesbrough's win over Swansea
Since their return to the top-flight, the victory over fellow strugglers Swansea has been as good as it’s got for Middlesbrough. Despite a bright start from Bob Bradley’s visitors, the ‘Boro seized the advantage after Alvaro Negredo finished first-time from Adam Clayton’s cross, and by the time Negredo slotted home from the spot after Jordi Amat felled Adam Forshaw in the box just on the half hour mark, the hosts were comfortably on top.
Maarten de Roon’s finish from a Gaston Ramirez pass in the second half added to Swansea’s misery, leaving them only off the bottom on goal difference and lifting ‘Boro to 14th, four points clear of danger. It is their biggest win of the season so far.
Although Negredo and De Roon will be grabbing the headlines for their goals, one man who went under the radar during the performance was Adam Forshaw. The former Brentford and Wigan Athletic midfielder was the lynch-pin in midfield, linking everything good about the hosts’ play together at the Riverside, and became the first Premier League player to complete 100% of his attempted passes having played the full 90 minutes of a match.
His early shot wide on five minutes was a warning shot fired to the Swans to not allow him too much time and space, and despite not registering a goal or assist in the game, the visitors’ failure to heed that early warning would cost them dearly.
Forshaw was given free-reign by the visitors to act out his midfield role, and besides helping pick the Swans apart with his incisive passing, he helped out in front of his defence, winning three out of four attempted tackles and winning half of his duels in the air, one of these a critical header won in the opening exchanges against Jordi Amat inside his own box. He also helped stemmed the tide of a bright start from the visitors, making two interceptions inside his own half and driving forward with the ball to ease the pressure on his side as they sought to seize control.
Following Negredo’s first goal, Forshaw’s first big contribution in attack would come just ten minutes later, and he out-foxed Jordi Amat once again as he drove beyond him into the penalty area before being bundled over. His Spanish teammate once again took responsibility, sending Lukasz Fabianski the wrong way for 2-0.
As ‘Boro grew in confidence, Forshaw became more involved in attacking play as well as helping out in defence. He made an early clearance in the second-half to help prevent any Swansea comeback, and blocked an attempted shot on the edge of his own box just before the 70 minute mark. But by then, the damage had been done, and Forshaw’s contributions in attack helped with that. Two key passes around the Swansea box in the second-half helped create near-missed chances before he played a part in creating the third goal.
Maarten de Roon having lost possession seized back the ball, and then began a 16-pass move, two of which were linked together by Forshaw before the ball ended up with Gaston Ramirez out on the right, whose ball in was gratefully finished by Dutchman De Roon.
Throughout the game, Forshaw was a presence in midfield, linking play together under the radar of the opposition, and was solid in the fact that he only gave away one foul, whilst winning two for his team, including the spot-kick from which Negredo scored. Sometimes it is the characters who help run the midfield in this way who make the difference in key matches, and in the mould of N’Golo Kanté, Forshaw did just that against Swansea. His manager, Aitor Karanka, will need this style of performance to be replicated if his team are to succesfully avoid danger.
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Craig Ballantyne.
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