Manchester United vs Middlesbrough
England Premier League.
Date: Saturday, 31st December 2016.
Kick-off at 15:00 UK.
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester.
Manchester United are on red hot form at the moment, picked up their 4 consecutive league win thrashing Sunderland by a 3-1 margin. Jose Mourinho’s side had a turbulent start to the season look well settled and ready to challenge for a spot inside the top four of the league table. They are currently 6th in the league table and still 4 points short of the fourth placed Arsenal.
Another big positive for the Red Devils is the scoring form of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Big Swede has already netted 10 times in the Premier League this season and 5 of those has come in the last 5 matches.
Middlesbrough ended up losing by a narrow 1-0 margin in a cagey affair at Burnley on Boxing Day. This left them without a win in 8 away games since the 2-1 win at Sunderland on matchday 2 of the season. Moreover, they have now lost in 3 of their last 4 games and the fear of relegation is looming on the Teessiders. Middlesbrough are 15th in the league with 4 points separating them from the drop zone.
Manchester United: Team News
Jose Mourinho has no reason to change the starting line-up that earned a comfortable 3-1 win against Sunderland on Boxing Day. However, tweaks are expected in order to cope with the tightly packed fixture list at the beginning of the New Year.
Wayne Rooney is a major doubt here, so do defenders Luke Shaw and Eric Bailly.
Manchester United: Predicted Starting Line-up (4-3-3)
De Gea – Blind, Rojo, Jones, Valencia – Pogba, Carrick, Herrera – Mata, Mkhitaryan, Ibrahimovic.
Middlesbrough: Team News
Antonio Barragan will serve his one match ban after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in the 1-0 defeat against Burnley. Danish midfielder Viktor Fischer is a major doubt here, while James Husband is sidelined since a while.
Middlesbrough: Predicted Starting Line-up (4-3-3)
Valdes – Friend, Gibson, Chambers, Nsue – Forshaw, Clayton, Roon – Ramirez, Traore, Negredo.
Manchester United vs Middlesbrough: Head-to-head stats
Middlesbrough visited Manchester United during the last season for the Capital One fixture and returned with a win from penalty-shootout. But United were unbeaten in the previous 10 matches against Middlesbrough with 6 wins and 4 draws.
Manchester United vs Middlesbrough: Prediction
The bookies are heavily favouring Manchester United to win here and we believe they will deliver it without a doubt. However, Middlesbrough are a team that could trouble the higher ranked teams with their ultra-defensive approach.
The Red Devils had just met a similar side in Sunderland few days ago and struggled to break through in earlier parts of the game. They were only able to utilize the space when Sunderland were chasing an equalizer in the final minutes.
Middlesbrough will struggle to win matches, but they are one of the toughest defense in the league to breach. They were beaten by more than 1 goal margin just twice in 18 league matches this season. So our main and only pick for this match is to back Middlesbrough on a +1.5 Asian handicap.