Middlesbrough vs Manchester United
Date: 19th March 2017
Kickoff: 12:00 UK/ 13:00 CET
Venue: Riverside Stadium
Middlesbrough will clash with Manchester United this Sunday in the hopes of picking up their first win since December 17th last year.
Both sides will be eager take home all 3 points from this game. A win for Boro could see them move up to 17th, bringing them out of the relegation zone on goal difference. A win for Manchester United could see them move up to 5th and close the gap on the top four with two games in hand on Liverpool who are currently 4th.
Things are not going well for Middlesbrough this season. Boro are without a win since last December and now sit 19th in the table. Boro have struggled for goals all season, scoring just 19. However, things have got even worse in recent games. Middlesbrough have scored just one goal from open play in their last 13.5 hours of Premier League football.
Despite their recent form, including their 2-0 defeat to Manchester City last week, Karanka said he was proud of his squad. In the press conference after the game, the Spaniard stated, ‘But I am really proud of my players because they’ve given a massive effort, from the first minute until the end.’ This seems like a positive for Middlesbrough and if they put in the effort again they could well secure a point against United. Something they desperately need to do now that they are 19th in the league.
However, Karanka has now left the club and it will be up to assistant coach Steve Agnew to try and secure victory for Boro this weekend.
Injury news: Callum Chambers, George Friend, Bernardo, Ayala and Gestede are all injured and will probably miss the game. However, Gestede and Friend may recover in time.
United are undefeated in the league for 17 games, stretching all the way back to the 23rd of October last year when they lost 4-0 to Chelsea. However United will be without prolific goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic due to suspension. The Swede will be greatly missed as he is United’s top scorer with 15 in the league this season. Zlatan has also assisted 4 of United goals this season meaning he has played a part in 49% of United’s Premier League goals this season.
Manchester United will also have to make do without Ander Herrera who will miss the game after he got sent off against Chelsea on Monday. After securing the League Cup earlier this season United will now surely be focused on finishing in the top four and will be desperate to take an easy 3 points from crumbling Boro.
Injury news: Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial missed the Chelsea game earlier this week and may not be fit for the clash with Boro. Zlatan and Herrera will both miss the game due to suspension. Pogba is likely to miss out.
Head to Head
Last time the two sides faced each other, Middlesbrough looked set to cause a huge upset. Grant Leadbitter gave Middlesbrough the lead in the 67th minute. Boro looked set to hold out for the win. But goals from Martial and Pogba in the 85th and 86th minute saw United snatch a late win.
The two sides have faced each other a total of 125 times. Boro have won 34 whereas United have dominated the fixture winning 63 of the games. The remaining 28 games ended in draws.
Middlesbrough have not beaten Manchester United in the league since 2005 in a 4-1 victory. An astonishing result they will be looking to replicate this Saturday.
Middlesbrough XI: Valdes, Barragan, Gibson, Fry, Fabio, Leadbitter, De Roon, Clayton, Ramirez, Stuani, Negredo
Manchester United XI: De Gea, Valencia, Baily, Smalling, Rojo, Carrick, Blind, Mkhitaryan, Fellaini, Lingard, Rashford
With Middlesbrough on such a poor run of form (10 games without a win) and United unbeaten in 17, all the signs point to a United stomping of Middlesbrough. Despite this, I think the game will be much tighter for a number of reasons. First of all, United are without Zlatan who is by far their best player and top scorer. Second United are also missing Herrera due to suspension and could also be missing Martial, Rooney and Pogba through injury. Thirdly, this is United’s 3rd game in the space of a week meaning the players could be fatigued. Finally, when Boro last played United they lead at Old Trafford till the 85th minute, showing they can compete with United. While these are all positives for Middlesbrough, I still think they lack the quality to beat United but it will be a close game.
Manchester United: 4/7
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