Middlesbrough travels to Reading this weekend in what could be a make or break game for Garry Monk and Boro. Despite being the early favourites to win the Championship, Boro are currently 13th in the Championship. They are also 12 points off top of the table Wolves. A win for Boro could take them up to 9th and is almost essential if they want to challenge for promotion this year.
Predicted 4-1-2-3 Middlesbrough Line-up To Face Reading
Middlesbrough used their favoured formation of 4-2-3-1 in their League Cup tie vs Bournemouth on Tuesday. The result was them once again being dominated and looking shaky at the back.
Therefore, maybe Monk should switch to a 4-1-2-3. Boro had some success earlier in the season with it. And it provides the defence with cover from the CDM, normally Adam Clayton.
GK: Darren Randolph
Randolph was rested for the cup game and is likely to reclaim his place in the Championship starting XI this week. He didn’t do a lot wrong in Boro’s last league game vs Cardiff with the only goal he conceded being a penalty.
RB: Cyrus Christie
Christie was also rested in midweek and he too has played every league game for Boro this season. So, expect him to retake his place at right-back this Saturday. Christie has had a largely solid season in a shaky Boro backline.
RCB: Daniel Ayala
Dael Fry was going to be earning a place at RCB in this line-up. But after he gave a penalty away on Tuesday, Monk is not likely to pick him again. The penalty was Fry’s second big error of the season and after the first, at Norwich, Monk kept him out for a while. So, he is likely to do the same again at the weekend.
Hopefully, Ayala can recapture some of his previous season’s form and start helping Boro solidify their defence.
LCB: Ben Gibson
Gibson was rested midweek meaning he will likely start against Reading. He has played every league game this season and that is likely to mean he keeps his spot on Saturday.
Fabio has been doing pretty well for Boro in the league lately. He attacks well and gets back to defend just as well. Plus, Friend took his spot on Tuesday and was partly responsible for one of Bournemouth’s goals. Therefore, except Fabio to reclaim the left back spot at Reading.
CDM: Adam Clayton
Clayton has been somewhat out in the cold in the league recently. But if Boro does switch back to a 4-1-2-3, Clayton is the best pick for the CDM spot. He drops back very well in between the two CB’s and could provide the defensive cover Boro have been lacking in recent games.
CM: Lewis Baker
CM is Baker’s natural position. He has not played there much for Middlesbrough though as he has been playing in a CAM role. Baker did a decent job in that role. But as it is not his natural spot, he didn’t exactly set the world on fire.
Baker can play the box to box role though and that is exactly what he would need to do in this system. He also has a very strong weak foot meaning it is easy for him to pass the ball about and help control the midfield.
CM: Grant Leadbitter
Leadbitter is Boro’s captain and in the form Boro are on, they need their captain in the 11 driving them forward. Howson would normally take this spot. However, his displays in recent weeks have been awful and there is surely no way Monk can start him again.
RW: Patrick Bamford
Bamford is another player who did well in this system early in the season. He can play out on the right, his most played position, or he can drop behind Assombalonga and Braithwaite into a CAM role, a spot he did pretty well in at the start of this season.
ST: Britt Assombalonga
Assombalonga has played every league game this season and will start at Reading unless he picks up an injury. His goal return is decent this season. So far he has bagged six in the Championship making him the joint second top scorer.
However, he does lose the ball a fair bit and his touches are sometimes not great. Hopefully, he works on this and improves when Boro travels to Reading.
LW: Martin Braithwaite
Braithwaite has been solid since returning from injury. He looks sharp on the ball and has already scored two goals since returning. Therefore, he will likely start at Reading. Something few fans will complain about.
He can also play as a striker if Boro decided to switch to a 4-1-2-1-2 with Bamford at CAM.
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