Middlesbrough will look to regroup after a disappointing set-back against Crystal Palace at home as they get on the road to the face the rampaging Everton outfit headed by the impressive Ronald Koeman in a Paul Morell tuxedo. Middlesbrough have suffered a few stutters after their enterprising start to the season wherein they drew against Stoke City before knocking out Sunderland in the first Tees-Wear derby of the season. What followed was a tepid 0-0 draw against West Bromwich Albion, for which Boro should not be blamed much, as the match probably got Tony Pulis’ pulses racing. The Riversiders would have fancied beating a struggling Crystal Palace outfit in their home ground, but failed to grasp the initiative and fell to a 1-2 loss in the end.
Yet, they have managed 5 points out of a possible 12 and seem to have got a footing in the hectic league. Aitor Karanka will look to get his defensive shape back and make the boys realise that they are good enough to play their natural game at this level. Their promotion bid was thrust on a strong defensive foundation and that will be something the Teesiders will try to emulate in their survival bid this season.
HERE IS THE T4O’S PREDICTED MIDDLESBROUGH LINE-UP VS EVERTON (4-2-3-1)
Victor Valdes will be first choice in goal but he will be aware of the quality of depth Boro have in that department. Antonio Barragan will start at right-back and look to establish himself. Karanka went with the tried and tested Gibson and Ayala partnership and might go with the same this week. But he has the option of using Calum Chambers also, given the Arsenal loanee has already played this season for the Gunners. George Friend will start at left-back and will hope to put in a better performance than the last game where his mistake led to the second Crystal Palace goal.
Marten de Roon made his comeback after a spell on the sidelines and will again be selected in the double pivot. Adam Clayton is expected to partner him and the duo will have a busy day on their hands in containing the Everton attackers. Gaston Ramirez is likely to return to the starting lineup and take up his usual spot in the No.10 role. He’ll look to get back to assisting and scoring goals.
Aitor Karanka kept his faith in Stuani and Stewart Downing for the flank roles and might start off with the same players. But he has options at his disposal with the likes of Traore and Fischer pushing for a start. Alvaro Negredo will be the lone striker up front.