Middlesbrough will be on a high after Marten De Roon’s last gasp header enabled them to snatch a draw at the Etihad. In a match where they were pegged back in their own half for large periods of time, the result would have come as a huge boost especially so close to a 0-0 draw against Arsenal. Thus, Middlesbrough have equalled their best run of this season with a win sandwiched between two draws. But the quality of opposition was of a different level this time around and it has come at the right time as the Teesiders will need all the luck and determination in their next fixture, which is a match against 2nd placed Chelsea.
The Blues have been imperious in the last month and a half and Conte seems to have struck gold with a formation which he admits was his Plan D. Chelsea will be posing the toughest challenge yet with the team functioning like a well-oiled machine and boy is the engine purring. The likes of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa have been unstoppable, Matic and Kanté are depicting a made in heaven couple while the defence is apparently leak-proof by the looks of it.
Boro will face a test unlike any other till now and they need to apply themselves fully and execute their planning to perfection but the sad part it even after that, things might just be too difficult to crack.
T4O’S PREDICTED MIDDLESBROUGH LINE-UP (4-3-2-1)
Victor Valdes is looking increasingly confident and assured which is a huge boost to the Riversiders. Antonio Barragan will line up at right-back and will be tasked with the unenviable duty of containing Eden Hazard. The central defensive pairing is likely to be that of Chambers and Gibson. Boro have conceded just once in the last 3 matches and will be confident. George Friend is likely to be at left-back once again.
Karanka ditched his double pivot against Arsenal and Manchester City and will likely go with 3 in the midfield. The hard-working and tireless trio of Forshaw, Clayton and De Roon will once again line up in midfield with Forshaw slightly advanced of the 3. De Roon will be buzzing after his goal before the break.
Ramirez is expected to take up the left-flank position with Downing most likely to miss out. Traore will once again be an important part of the plans with his blistering pace and raw physicality lending weight to their attacking endeavours which will be few and far between. Negredo will look to have a fruitful duel with the likes of Cahill and Luiz.