Monday, October 3, 2022

4-2-3-1 Middlesbrough Predicted Line-up To Face Barnsley: Braithwaite To Start?

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Josh Barker
Middlesbrough FC correspondent for The 4th Official.

Middlesbrough return to action on Saturday after the international break when they travel to Barnsley. Middlesbrough will be hoping that the international break has given them a chance to shake off the bad run of form they’ve been on.

In their last game, they drew 2-2 at home to Brentford, a game they should really be winning. In the two games before they lost 1-0 at home to Norwich and drew 1-1 away to Fulham.

This winless run has left Boro 11th in the Championship, not exactly where they should be or want to be. So, with plenty of time to work on tactics and improving players over the international break, Monk’s men will be hoping to pick up their first league win in four games when they face 18th place Barnsley on Saturday. Here is how they may lineup.

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Middlesbrough have played this formation the most this season. But Monk has already proved he likes to chop and changes both tactics and players. The constant change in system and personal has not done Boro the world of good though as they often look like a team without a true identity.

Therefore, Monk needs to pick a system and stick with it in order for players to gel together. That system is likely to be the 4-2-3-1.

GK: Daren Randolph

Randolph has been excellent for Middlesbrough all season. He has kept five clean sheets already this season and has pulled off countless critical saves.

Randolph also had an excellent international break where he made some great saves in Ireland’s win over Wales which saw them qualify for a playoff spot to play at the World Cup. Both he and Boro will be hoping his international forms carries over into Saturday’s game.

RB: Cyrus Christie

Christie was also a part of the Irish defence that kept a clean sheet vs Wales and qualified for a World Cup playoff space. Christie has also been very impressive domestically.

In fact, he has been so good for Boro this season; he has made his way into the whoscored Championship team of the season so far. Like Randolph, Boro will be hoping his form carries over into the Barnsley game which he will inevitably be starting in.

RCB: Dael Fry

Fry was left out of Boro’s last game vs Brentford after his error led to Norwich scoring the only goal of the game in Middlesbrough’s last defeat.

However, his replacement at Brentford, Ryan Shotton, didn’t exactly have a great debut and Fry is likely to reclaim his place this weekend.

LCB: Daniel Ayala

Ben Gibson has been the only centre-back to start every Boro game this season. But in recent weeks his performances have dipped and Middlesbrough have not kept a clean sheet in their last four league games. This may persuade Monk to try the new partnership of Dael Fry and Daniel Ayala, one which many fans would welcome.

Ayala is an experienced Championship centre-back, being Boro’s main centre-back last time they were promoted. So, given how well he knows this league, he and Fry could work very well together.

LB: Fabio

Despite Middlesbrough’s defensive frailties in recent weeks Fabio has generally performed well. He even scored the equaliser in Middlesbrough’s last game when they drew 2-2 with Brentford.

Middlesbrough’s only other left back is George Friend who is severally lacking for form this season. so, expect Fabio to start at left back against Barnsley.

CDM: Adam Clayton

Clayton has started every league game for Middlesbrough this season and generally he has not put a foot wrong. He gets back and defends well and also controls the game with his great passing. Therefore, he is likely to start again vs Barnsley.

CDM: Grant Leadbitter

Jonny Howson has been partnering Clayton in CDM in recent games. However, Howson has been underperforming, to say the least. He doesn’t get back enough, struggles to cut passing lanes and his overall play looks quite lazy.

Leadbitter, on the other hand, has been excellent in the few games he has played. He like Clayton controls the game, gets back to defended and also offers some much-needed leadership.

The Leadbitter Clayton pairing is one Boro fans are very familiar with and with Boro somewhat struggling for an identity recently, a familiar pairing in centre mid is exactly what Middlesbrough need.

RM: Patrick Bamford

Patrick Bamford has fallen out of favour in recent weeks with the enigma that is Adama Traore tacking his place.

Traore is still, despite showing improvement from last season, a very inconsistent player and given that Middlesbrough are struggling for form at the moment, they may be a lot better off going with Patrick Bamford who has performed well already for Middlesbrough this season.

CAM: Lewis Baker

Baker is Middlesbrough’s only real CAM option apart from maybe Stewart Downing. So, he is likely to be starting at Barnsley.

Baker has done decently in recent weeks in that position and he has also created the most chances for Boro this season which is something you want from your CAM.

LM: Martin Braithwaite

Braithwaite has recently returned from injury after being out since the first game of the season. He started his first game since coming back against Brentford, in which he scored. He is a fast skilful player who has a decent finish on him and could cause a side like Barnsley big problems.

ST: Britt Assombalonga

Assombalonga has started every league game for Middlesbrough this season. The striker has scored 11 goals in five games which is decent. However, he has missed many a big chance already this season and is without a goal in his last three games.

So, Middlesbrough will be hoping that his finishing has improved and he finds his goalscoring boots again vs Barnsley.

Here is how they might line up:

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