After a disappointing 3-3 draw with bottom of the league Sunderland in their last game, Middlesbrough knew they had to bounce back vs Leeds United. Which is exactly what they did.
Boro dominated for the full game. They kept Leeds very quiet and Bamford and Traore ran Leeds defence raged. Their 3-0 win has now reignited Boro’s promotion charge as they are now just two points off the top six with some very winnable games coming up. Including on Tuesday evening when they play Birmingham.
A win for Middlesbrough could see them move up to 6th. But a loss could see them move down to 9th.
Here is how they might line up.
Pulis opted for a 4-3-3 last time out due to Bamford moving up to striker and Boro not having the best-attacking midfield options. This worked very well vs Leeds as Boro dominated the midfield and came away with all three points. So, it is very likely Pulis will opt for a similar system vs Birmingham.
GK: Darren Randolph
Randolph had very little to do vs Leeds as they had just one shot on target. However, the little he had to do he did well. He will be in net on Tuesday night.
RB: Ryan Shotton
Shotton put in another stellar display last time out and given how well he has done under Pulis he will start again vs Birmingham.
RCB: Daniel Ayala
Ayala put in a commanding display vs Leeds. As well as also nearly scoring from a corner. He will start on Tuesday.
LCB: Ben Gibson
Gibson hasn’t had the best few weeks for Middlesbrough. But his display vs Leeds was a solid one. And Boro will be hoping that continues on Tuesday.
LB: George Friend
Friend cause Leeds a host of problems last time out for the Teessider’s as well as being a rock at the back. He will keep his place at left-back.
CDM: Muhamed Besic
Besic has settled into Boro’s midfield very nicely and he was probably their best centre mid in their last game. He will keep his spot on Tuesday.
CM: Jonny Howson
Howson was maybe Middlesbrough’s worst player vs Leeds United. However, given Leadbitter is out for two games after picking up his 10th yellow card of the season, Howson will keep his space vs Birmingham.
CM: Adam Clayton
Clayton is the only obvious choice to replace the suspended Leadbitter vs Birmingham given that Boro sold Forshaw. And Pulis is not a fan of Lewis Baker. Therefore, expect him to start vs Birmingham and probably in the following game as well.
RW: Adama Traore
Traore put in another excellent display last time out. He was simply too much for the Leeds defence to handle and now he has found an end product he looks unstoppable. He also got an assist vs Leeds for Bamford’s second of the game. He will start on Tuesday.
ST: Patrick Bamford
If there was any doubt that Bamford has regained his 2014/15 form, his performance vs Leeds has truly put that to bed. He scored his first career hattrick and the first Boro hattrick at The Riverside since 2008. He will most defiantly keep his place up top vs Birmingham.
LW: Stewart Downing
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