Middlesbrough progressed to the 4th round of the FA CUP last weekend when they beat rivals Sunderland 2-0 at home. Middlesbrough’s attention will now turn back to the league this weekend when they take on Fulham.
Fulham are 10th in the league and just two points behind 8th place Middlesbrough. So, this is a must-win game for the Teessider’s. A win for Boro could see them move as high as 5th. But a loss could see them drop down to 10th.
Here is how they might line up.
Boro once again used the 4-2-3-1 when they saw off Sunderland in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. So, given it has helped them win their last two games, Pulis is likely to opt for it again this Saturday.
GK: Darren Randolph
Randolph is firmly cemented as Boro’s main keeper under Pulis. Because even in the cup when a second keeper normally gets a runout, Randolph was chosen for Middlesbrough. He will start vs Fulham.
RB: Ryan Shotton
Shotton now looks to be Boro’s main right back under Pulis. This came as a bit of a shock to many given Christie has been one of Boro’s better players this season. But Shotton will start vs Fulham.
RCB: Daniel Ayala
With Ryan Shotton now seemingly a right back for Boro and Dael Fry yet to make an appearance for Pulis, Ayala is really the only other centre back Boro can partner alongside Ben Gibson. Meaning he will start vs Fulham unless Pulis gives an unexpected start to Fry.
LCB: Ben Gibson
Gibson has started every league game for Boro this season. And given he is probably their best centre-back he will start in a must-win Fulham game.
LB: George Friend
Given that Fabio looks set to leave Middlesbrough this transfer window, George Friend is Boro’s only out and out left back. He will start vs Fulham.
CDM: Jonny Howson
Howson put in another solid display for Middlesbrough in the derby. He has certainly improved in recent weeks and is looking to be a regular under Tony Pulis.
CDM: Grant Leadbitter
Pulis also favours Grant Leadbitter to partner Jonny Howson in centre mid. This is the paring we will likely see vs Fulham.
RM: Adama Traore
Traore seems to be improving greatly under Tony Pulis despite him being the manager for less than a month. This was illustrated when Traore had a great game vs Sunderland and set up Gestede for the opener. Boro fans will be hoping he continues to improve vs Fulham.
CAM: Martin Braithwaite
There was some doubt cast over Braithwaite’s future when Tony Pulis took charge. Largely because he is not really a typical Tony Pulis player. However, Braithwaite started in the cup vs Sunderland. He had an impressive game and scored one of Boro’s two goals. So, he is likely to be given another chance vs Fulham.
LM: Stewart Downing
Downing had another decent game vs Sunderland. Pulis is also a big fan of his meaning he is likely to start again vs Fulham.
ST: Ruddy Gestede
Despite Britt Assombalonga being Middlesbrough’s record signing and scoring 12 league goals this season, Pulis does seem to favour Gestede. Pulis’s faith in Gestede was rewarded last game when he started and scored vs Sunderland. He is likely to remain as Boro’s front man in their next game.
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