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Boro v Leeds
 

Boro v Leeds

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Following Boro’s highly creditable draw at Portman Road – both the result and the performance – the next challenge is another of the automatic promotion hopefuls, Leeds United, on Monday, kick-off 8pm.

Daniel Farke’s “Dirties” sit third in the Championship table, just one point behind pre-season favourites Leicester City who have played one fewer game. Ipswich Town occupy top spot just a single point further ahead.

With the top three all dropping points at the weekend, Leicester via a shock 1-0 defeat at Plymouth, Ipswich courtesy of ourselves of course and Leeds also losing 1-0 at home to Blackburn, the pressure of promotion appears to have intensified by a Pascal or two with the winning line in sight. The Championship form table (last six games) demonstrates this clearly with Leicester in 15th (W2 D1 L3) and Leeds in 11th (W2 D2 L2), though Ipswich remain second despite only three wins from their last six. By the way, Leicester are as low as 19th over the past 10 games, though Ipswich are top and Leeds fourth.

For Leeds, it’s not been the easiest run of games with fixtures including away to Watford and Coventry and a home game against Hull but the 0-0 draw with Sunderland (H) added to Saturday’s defeat have paused their push. It’s now three games without a win for The Whites, having previously won nine in a row at the beginning of the calendar year.

The story of those last three winless games has been one of a lack of goals – just one in fact in the 2-1 defeat at Coventry. This is despite them having two of the division’s top ten scorers in Dutch winger Crysencio Summerville and Wales wideman Daniel James.

Farke’s comments after the Blackburn defeat recognised that problem:

"So many balls went through the box, but you also need to show the quality to put the ball in the net.

"If you don't score you have so much more risk. There is also a danger there will be one moment for your opponent and they can score. It's pretty disappointing and frustrating for us.

"We didn't put the ball into the net. If you don't score, you can't win the game.

"It's up to me if we don't score - to find solutions. I have to work with them so that in the next game we create more chances."

Perhaps then, this a game that fits very nicely with Carrick’s more recent keep-it-tight-and-counter gameplan.

Certainly Boro have had some success this season with the more pragmatic approach. Wins home and away against Leicester, unbeaten against Southampton and creditable cup performances against Villa and Chelsea at home have shown a different side to Carrick’s Boro, though the draws away at Hull and at Portman Road were a touch more attack-minded.

So it will it be a return to a back three and wingbacks? I’m not so sure.

There was a good argument to deploy the more conservative approach at Hull and especially Ipswich but Carrick seemingly chose not to. Was this a hint that the boss is focussed on next season, and that his preferred approach is the more fluid 4-2-3-1? Maybe.

Whichever setup Carrick deploys, it’s a game where Boro are more likely to sit deeper and counter. With good reason too – not just that Leeds are one of the league’s best but because they possess such potent attacking pace themselves (as we found out at Elland Road back in December). Denying the likes of Summerville, James and Georginio Rutter the sort of space in which they thrive is surely the key to stunting the Leeds attack.

They have been frustrated of late against, is it fair to say, lesser sides than ourselves? Surely the plan must be to follow suit and add more panic to their promotion pressures.

To do so will take a dogged rearguard effort against a side that are third in the table not only overall but also on xG (1.62 per 90 mins). But that is only half the story….

Farke’s side have quite comfortably been the best defence in the league with just 34 goals conceded from their 43 games. That is Karanka level stuff and unsurprisingly they’re also top of the charts for xGC with just 1.00 expected goals conceded per match. Boro, therefore, will not only have to play a mindful game at the back, we’ll also need to find a way of breaching that league-leading defence.

Still, we did score a couple at Elland Road in that 3-2 defeat. And if counter attacking is the name of the game, we do have raw pace up top in the form of the red hot Emmanuel Latte Lath. Isaiah Jones of course has pace to burn too and with Sam Greenwood ineligible against his parent club, the equally rapid Sammy Silvera should get the nod on the other side (or up front with ELL if it’s a wingback system).

Also, let us not forget that whilst our season is effectively over, we are on a 9-match unbeaten run in which we’ve conceded only five goals ourselves, whilst scoring fourteen. That puts us 6th for form over the last six and 3rd over the last 10. For those interested, we’re 6th for xG over the season and, perhaps surprisingly, 7th for xGC. Considering that we’re actually the 8th best attack and 11th best defence, the numbers suggest that we’ve underperformed / been a bit unlucky at both ends of the pitch this season.

So, a tough game on paper but the visitors have felt the strain of late whilst Boro have been belatedly resurgent. With several good results against the league’s best this term for Boro to add to the mix, I have a cautious optimism about this one.

How about you?


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Andy,

Thanks for that review of a game that we so desperately want Boro to win, well not lose, and just put a stick in Leeds' spokes. I'm quietly and cautiously optimistic so here's hoping Boro can get an early goal or two. I'll let OFB comment on the score and surprise us all with his prediction. Once again thank you for another cracker of an opener.

All the best everyone.

UTB,

John


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@john-richardson and Andy

Andy

Thanks for the opener and many thanks for all your hard work on this blog planning the match previews and writing as well. It’s truly appreciated.

John

What can I say ?

Boro3

It just has to be !!!

OFB


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This is always a keenly followed game in Eboracum. Working in a local school, there are a variety of club allegiences with Leeds, Manchester x 2 and Liverpool the most popular but also a smattering of Boro fans too! York also have a few fans but the kids tend to support them as well as a PL team too. I just don't get that with Boro being my only interest!  I have a feeling this could be a 2 2 draw. Leeds need to attack to get the win so will give us some chances up front. UTB


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33 minutes Southampton 3 Preston 0 

Come on BORO.


   
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Great stuff, Andy, and a very astute tactical analysis of Monday's match. Thanks for this and all of your other leaders throughout the season.

And profuse apologies to Clive for being so late in expressing appreciation for his excellent Ipswich opener. Like others I knew little of the Ipswich gaffer, so Clive's research on his background and record was both interesting and illuminating. I have been away enjoying the sun for a couple of weeks, hence my absence from the blog, but I spent a very happy couple of hours at the week-end catching up.

Really enjoyed the high-level discussion on the merits or otherwise of Carrick's preferred method of playing out from the back. I tend to be on the deleriad/Peter Surtees side of the argument. The only thing I can add to all of the excellent points made on both sides is that  the tendency to make costly mistakes at crucial moments is inherent in the method. It's not necessarily a deficiency of skill in the Boro players since you can see costly bloomers being made every week in the Premier League. Only last week, Liverpool completely outplayed Man U, but went behind after a defensive pass was intercepted gifting United a goal from out of the blue. Drawing a game they should easily have won was the outrageous price Liverpool paid for playing out from the back. It may turn out to have cost them the League championship. Yet no one has suggested they change tack, not least because every other side in the top half of the Premier League plays in this way.

And I recall Man City losing a League Cup Final on the greatest stage of all at Wembley when a Zack Steffen howler cost them the match

I should add that as a longstanding Boro supporter, after all of the Karanka-Pulis-Warnock years of anti-football when the chief aims were less to play the game than to prevent the opposition from playing, less trying to score than to prevent the opposition from doing so, less to be creative than to cut out mistakes, I have a particularly high tolerance threshold for a coach who is trying to drag the club into the 21st century and play the game in a creative and entertaining way.

It would, I agree , be easier to make this argument if the Boro's home results and performances had been better this season.

A degree of tolerance and compromise on both sides would be welcome. There are times when the long ball turning the opposition defence will be the best option. And there needs to be some consciousness-raising by the club to illuminate for fans the cost-benefit consequences of Carrick's methods. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Isiah Jones signs new contract until 2027.

Come on BORO.


Pedro de Espana
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@andyr     Many thanks Andy for an excellent Headliner delivered with a different perspective to the upcoming game.

I think it will be a herder game possibly to get somthing out of it, with the loss of two more players in Ayling and Greenwood and an even thinner bench.

Assuming MC goes with Dijksteel and Silvera, not as good as the previous two, then obviously the side will be weaker IMO.

However, he could return to his more pragmatic inner and go for the following side.

                        DIENG

JONES  VDB  HOWSON  CLARKE  ENGEL

                 BARLASER  O’BRIEN

                        AZAZ

               LATTE LATH   SILVERA


Martin Bellamy
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Thanks for the starter, Andy - another well researched and relevant post, as has become the norm on here. 

I’m looking forward to watching the game (I’m assuming is on Sky) but I can’t say I’m hopeful of a win - but this is the Boro, so anything could happen. 


   
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Good stuff, AndyR.  I very much enjoyed the read.

I have no idea how things will turn out but at least BORO seems to be on a very decent (I hesitate to say "promotion level") run of form, whilst Leeds United seems to have hit a bit of a slump.  It's as though the teams at the top, as soon as the finishing line has come into view, have become very shy.  "After you, Claude...!"  Southampton clearly has its fortune in its own hands. For me and in a perfect world from here, the 3 to go up to the PL (in the absence of BORO) would be Ipswich Town, Southampton and Leicester City.

I'D LOVE IT, JUST LOVE IT, if Boro cold get one over on Leeds.  Obviously if they could get OFB's legendary THREE over Leeds, that would be all the merrier.  Hopefully there will be a lively atmosphere at the Riverside for the boys from West Yorkshire.  I assume Leeds will have sold its allocation, to help with that atmosphere and make it seem like a later-round tie in the FA Cup. #UTB.

This post was modified 1 month ago by Forever Dormo

   
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Happy Birthday to one of our great contributors Jarkko

keep on supporting the Boro from afar and hope you have a great day !

OFB


   
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Another great opener from Andy R, thank you once again. 

Happy Birthday to jarkko too.

Come on BORO.


   
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Birthday greetings to Jarkko, have a great day and many more supporting the Boro. 😎


   
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Thanks Andy for another excellent starter and for all your contributions which have been first class throughout.

Another tough game on Monday against the dirties and I just hope we can keep the unbeaten run going.

It would be nice after the Jones announcement if we could hear similar news on the likes of Howson, McGree, and RvDB over the next few days.  News on the likes of Ayling and O’Brien may take a little longer given they are still under contract elsewhere.

Our daughter is visiting this weekend and we are dining out on Monday evening so I will record the game and catch up when we get home.  🤞it will be a late but enjoyable watch. 😎


   
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Have a great day, Jarkko.


   
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jarkko
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@many Thank you for remembering me. Yes, it is 63 years on the clock now.

I have been on a pre-season camp in Fuengirola in Spain this week. We have had two matches against the local tems of Finns living in here (I think about 30 000 Finns live here). Tomorrow we will have the final preseason match against a local Spanish team. Our football season will start on 2nd May, and we are in top form hopefully.

I will be back home on Saturday. So thank you @AndyR for the preview and I look forward to seeing Boro play the Dirties on Monday. Up the Boro! 

This post was modified 1 month ago by jarkko

   
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Pedro de Espana
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I hope you have enjoyed your stay here on the Costa del Sol Jarrko. You will certainly have enjoyed the sunshine this week. 😎

I think we may have rain this week weekend. 💦💦

This post was modified 1 month ago by Pedro de Espana

   
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@pedro.  Yes please keep the rain down your end.  Our daughter will want it dry and sunny whilst visiting.😉 🤞😎


   
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jarkko
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Who will play at the three attacking positions behind Latte Lath?

Naturally Greenwood won't play against his parent club. So we have Azaz, I Jones and Silvera available. And Gilbert on the bench.

In cenral midfield we can play two of Howson, O'Brien and Barlaser. And perhaps McCabe on the bench, too.

At right back it will be Dijksteel as Ayling cannot play as he is on loan from Leeds. McNair might be on the bench, so we have defense sorted.

So we have a young bench again. And not many who can change the flow of the match after coming on late in the game.

I hope we will see a 1-0 win, though. Up the Boro!

 

 

 


   
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Selwynoz
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@jarkko 

all the very best wishes for a happy and healthy year. Finland is still on my bucket list

UTB


   
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Clive Hurren
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Happy Birthday, Jarkko. 63? You’re just a youngster compared to several of us on here! 

I loved the opener, Andy. Given that it is increasingly difficult to hit on a novel way of presenting the starter, in a year in which everybody has succeeded in doing just that, I think you have amazingly found another novel approach for this one. Well done, and thank you. 

It’s a difficult game on Monday, as you’ve all said. I’d settle for a draw. Andy’s excellent analysis of Leeds’ strengths suggests to me that we’ll probably need to keep them to one goal: I can see us scoring one goal against them, but two might be a stretch too far. 

I’d like to see Carrick go with 3 centre-backs and wing-backs for this one to make Leeds work hard for everything. How about a side like this?

                              Dieng  

                   Van den Berg  McNair   Clarke 

  Jones    Dijksteel     Howson    O’Brien/ Hackney   Engel 

                       Latte Lath       Silvera/ Finch

The tacticians amongst you will tell me why that won’t work, no doubt! And the realists amongst you - which includes you tacticians!- will tell me it ain’t gonna happen, as Carrick won’t be that radical. But why not? What have we got to lose? 


   
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Pedro de Espana
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@clive-hurren    I agree with three at the back. Even my three at the back line may be too pragmatic for MC, but yours Clive. Nah!!   🤣🤣🤣


   
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 gt
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I've been finding it hard to comment on our beloved gladiators lately, after six decades of unbelievable highs, disappointing lows, I never felt hope was lost  , 

Today and I hope I'm wrong , I'm somewhat wondering where's it going, obviously we don't have the financing to sign the difference makers, I'm ok with that, but we have one of the biggest fan following , and infrastructure, yet lesser  clubs are passing us by or at least on par, 

Next season, we have got to find ,twenty to twenty five more goals, I see Latte Laat, Aziz , Mcgree if he's still here, 

I'm going to be honest, I wouldn't sign any of the loans, I love Johnny, but one goal a season isn't good enough,  Hackney would never have played if Leo hadn't stepped in, are there others being held back, id accept  twelfth , with a young progressive team of academy prospects , it's a young mans game now.

I want to say more including Carrick, I didn't want to now until end of season review.

V . Leeds, if we don't stop their widemen, and press their midfield it could be a bad night, but, im hoping to have egg on my chin, COB


   
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jarkko
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@clive-hurren Thanks,  Clive.

I see what you are after. If McNair is not able to start yet, then it could be Dijksteel, van den Berg,  Clarke at the back, perhaps?

And then Jones, Howson, Barlaser, O'Brien and Engel/Bangura.  I cannot see Hackney starting just yet as he has been out for so long. Perhaps 30 min first as a sub.

It wil be interesting to see if we revert back to wingbacks against Leeds United.  I think we might keep a back four and play the way Carrick wants us to play next season - so honing our system for the future. Wish we had Coburn back, but we must wait until next season to have two fit forwards, though.

Up the Boro!


   
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I have no idea, Gentlemen, how this evening's game against Leeds United will go.  Hopefully a really good performance and a BORO home win but obviously there is a chance that the Leeds squad will have shaken itself down after the recent "wobble", so that a return to previous good form by them is possible.  I'd love a BORO win and, if it looks like one might be achieved, the Leeds nerves will undoubtedly grow significantly. It is now crunch time for the teams at the top whereas for BORO the pressure should be much less.

But the only thing that looks certain is a chilly, damp and grey Riverside this evening.  It has been grey and rainy/drizzling all day so far and there seems to be no glint of summer on the horizon.  I know April in the UK is supposed to be be famous for its showers, but the weather gods seem to be taking matters to extremes at the present.


   
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jarkko
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@forever-dormo It won't rain here in Finland today nor tomorrow!

But it will be snowing all day tomorrow.  Not much at a time but we could end up with 5 to 10 cm. Not complaining though as I still have my winter tyres on (had booked a change for tomorrow but now postponed to Friday). So we still wait for the spring to arrive!

I hope Boro will play well and can extend the unbeaten run to ten matches tonight. Up the Boro!


   
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@forever-dormo 

Been down to Middlesbrough (the town) today which was an experience.

It was cold, wet, drizzly and didn’t generate any feeling of going to the game tonight to sit outside feeling miserable.

We thought it would be nice to sofa watch the Boro on tv instead, nice and warm and cozy.

Sounds like a plan !

OFB


   
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@original-fat-bob  It's a behind the couch kind of match I think, maybe with a glass of something red, to match the home strip of course. Whatever you do don't predict! I nearly dived behind the couch on Saturday afternoon but it would have been a long stay.

Don't lose Boro, or concede, oh and make sure the right Boro turn up please.

UTB,

John


   
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@original-fat-bob - I will be in my usual seat in the West Stand Upper unless a hurricane suddenly appears out of nowhere before I set off.  I am working out how many layers I will need.  It's not the cold that causes the problem, it's the wetness falling from the sky!


   
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CJ's comments on the Boro starting XI:

So it's two changes this evening. Thomas is in for Engel, with the Dane missing out altogether. Word from the club is that he's missing for personal reasons, so whatever that is, we wish him the best.

Dijksteel in for Ayling, who is of course ineligible against his parent club. With Greenwood also out, it's a very young bench this evening. Two GKs, with young Shea Connor joining Jamie Jones on the bench. The lesser-seen Matthew Hoppe back in the squad and four teenagers on the bench too, with Lennon, McCabe and Matthews joining Connor.

We've seen McCabe and and Lennon this season on the bench, but a first for Ajay Matthews - the young forward who has been attracting interest from Chelsea in recent weeks.

From the Echo:

MIDDLESBROUGH (4-2-3-1): Dieng; Dijksteel, van den Berg, Clarke, Thomas; Howson, O'Brien; I Jones, Azaz, Silvera; Latte Lath.

Subs: J Jones (gk), Connor (gk), Barlaser, Hoppe, Gilbert, Bangura, Lennon, McCabe, Matthews.

LEEDS (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Byram, Rodon, Ampadu, Firpo; Gray, Gruev; Gnonto, Rutter, Summerville; Bamford.

Subs: Darlow (gk), Cooper, Kamara, James, Shackleton, Fernandez, Piroe, Gelhardt, Anthony.

(my bold)

This post was modified 1 month ago by Stircrazy

   
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