Middlesbrough is on a horrible run of form lately. They’re winless in five games and have just lost 1-0 to Cardiff City on Saturday.
Garry Monk is coming under increasing pressure to be sacked. And he could really do with a win to take some pressure off him.
The League Cup could provide exactly that for him and Boro. Middlesbrough travel to Bournemouth this Tuesday and while Middlesbrough are in poor form, this is the cup and anything can happen. Plus, as Bournemouth will likely be more focused on the league and not getting relegated, they might field a weakened squad.
This could allow Middlesbrough to steal a win and earn some much-needed confidence. Here is how they might line up.
With Middlesbrough struggling in recent weeks primarily using the 4-2-3-1 it might be time for a change. One formation they could change to is the 4-1-2-3. Middlesbrough enjoyed some success earlier in the campaign with this formation. Also, as this is the cup, Middlesbrough will be less bothered if they lose meaning it is a perfect chance for Monk to try out a different system and see how it does.
Dimi is very much Middlesbrough’s cup keeper this season. He has made just two appearances this campaign. Both of which have been in the League Cup and both of which Middlesbrough kept clean sheets in. So, except Dimi to start at Bournemouth.
RB: Connor Roberts
Roberts like Dimi is a fringe player this season who has seemingly only been brought in as a sub.
Roberts has also only made two appearances this season. Again, both of them were in Middlesbrough’s cup games. Roberts did a solid job in both and as already mentioned Middlesbrough kept clean sheets in them. Therefore, expect him to start at Bournemouth.
CB: Dael Fry
Fry has been on the naughty step for several weeks now after costing Boro a goal at Norwich. However, Monk does like to rotate his squad for cup games. Meaning Fry is likely to be given a chance this Tuesday and hopefully, he takes it and earns a place back in the main 11.
CB: Ben Gibson
Preferably Monk would like to rest Gibson for Ryan Shotton in the cup. However, Shotton is cup-tied meaning Monk would have to play either Ayala or Gibson alongside Fry against Bournemouth. Monk is likely to opt for Gibson as he is the better of the two and Bournemouth are a good side.
LB: George Friend
Fabio has been Middlesbrough’s main left-back for some time now and rightly so. He is good going forward and decent defensively. However, as this is the cup, Friend is likely to be given a chance to earn a first team place again. Friend does seem to have lost a step though. So, if Bournemouth play a pacey winger on the right, he may struggle.
CDM: Adam Clayton
Clayton excelled in this system earlier in the season. He was great at dropping back between the two centre backs and providing great cover. He is a solid CDM and was left out of the side on Saturday, meaning he is likely to return this Tuesday.
CM: Lewis Baker
Baker was another who was completely left out of the squad that played Cardiff meaning he would be fresh for Bournemouth and will likely start. CM is also Baker’s preferred position, as opposed to the CAM role Boro have had him playing in recent weeks. Therefore, he should perform better this Tuesday.
CM: Adam Forshaw
Forshaw, like Baker, didn’t make the squad to face Cardiff which will likely mean he is starting away to Bournemouth.
Forshaw is a decent fit for this 4-1-2-3 system as he can get back and defend. But also attack and play some great through balls to the front three.
RW: Patrick Bamford
Bamford once again didn’t start vs Cardiff. And his RW counterpart Adama Traore gave away the penalty that cost Boro the game.
So, now it is surely time to give Bamford a start in the cup to show Monk why he should be playing each week.
ST: Ashley Fletcher
Assombalonga is Middlesbrough’s league striker. But he will likely start on the bench vs Bournemouth meaning Ashley Fletcher will get the nod on Tuesday. Fletcher hasn’t had a great start to life at Boro and has come under some criticism from fans.
However, the cup would be a great place for Fletcher to prove himself as a decent forward.
LW: Marvin Johnson
Johnson has fallen out of favour in recent games due to Martin Braithwaite returning from injury and putting on some good displays.
However, as already mentioned Monk love a change in the cup and this will likely mean Johnson will come in at Bournemouth. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as before he was dropped in the league, he was still putting in some decent displays.
This is how they might line up:
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