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Boro v Fulham

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Original Fat Bob
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Boro v Fulham

Wednesday 06/04/22

K.O 19:45 Riverside Stadium

Live Sky Sports Football

 

So after playing the bottom Posh team in the Championship we now turn our attention to playing the Posh London team at the top. A team that is favoured by TV celebrities and various wannabees. Fulham, a team who have been running away with the league all season and are certainties for the Championship title and promotion to the Premiership having amassed 80 points from 38 games. They only need nine points from the next eight games to be assured of promotion and only Bournemouth have the possibility of challenging them for the champions position.

When Boro played Fulham earlier in the season, it was the 8th August 2021 and we drew with them 1 - 1 with an equalising goal by Marc Bola in the 77th minute. That doesn’t however tell the full story as they had over 67% possession to our 33%. They also had 413 passes to our 211 and this was coupled with an impressive 81% passing accuracy. It’s worth bearing in mind also that they’ve got a lot better since then! So is it going to be one way traffic and are Boro heading for a rout and a heavy defeat?

Fear not fellow Diasborians, we have three things to counter that pessimistic thought.

One, we have had a change of manager since our last encounter. Someone who has drilled this Boro team into an effective machine, step forward Chris Wilder.

Two, we have the home backing of a noisy and enthusiastic crowd, who will be roaring our Boro team on and exhorting them to stretch every sinew and cover every blade of grass to win the game. Sky Sports have called our crowd “electric” creating an atmosphere that is genuinely a “12th man” for the team.

Three, we have a special player in our ranks who will be determined that Boro win the game. No, I’m not talking about Isaiah Jones. I’m referring to our Captain Johnny Howson who seems to have found a new lease of life playing under Wilder. His shrewd passing and leadership is rubbing off onto the younger players and he is leading by example, creating positive performances and a will to win.

Other players who are starting to make their mark are the often criticised Tavernier. He said after the Peterborough game when interviewed by Radio Tees.

Quote

“We know we had a nice rest and coming back into it, it was going to be a big push in these next nine games but we know we need to take it a game at a time.

I think we’ve set off perfect today with getting the result. We’ve been waiting for a result all season because sometimes we’ve been just getting over the line but today we put them to the sword and got the result we wanted.

There is no easy game in this league. Anyone can give you a tough game. I think we did that today but I thought that played well and played our game. We did what we wanted to do and it was a result that we deserved.”

Unquote

Perhaps the thought of Riley McGree sitting on the substitutes bench has made the performances of Tav more important both to himself and to his teammates. If he can start adding goals to his game like the one he scored yesterday it will be impossible for him not to be included in the Boro team.

It was noticeable that Peterborough like most teams in the Championship have identified Jones on the right wing as the biggest threat for a Boro attack. However Boro had more chances on the left wing as Marc Bola making just his second start since injuring his knee in early December also had a point to prove. The balance he provides to the Boro team was evident and makes teams stop and think that they cannot just stifle Jones and achieve success. Bola has a natural attacking capability and he linked up really well with Tavernier. He was  delivering balls into the penalty area that deserved to have someone on the end of them. Imagine if Boro had a Bernie Slaven up front he would relish some of those balls played into him.

Talking of forwards it seems that Wilder has now firmly  established a rotational system of using his forwards to wear down the opposition. This strategy is to create goals later in the game by bringing on fresh substitutes with energy and pace.

Connolly and Balogun are certainly trying for the team and Connolly has been unlucky with his finishing on a few occasions just narrowly missing scoring. Balogun as well as continuing the press has now added goalscoring to his range of skills and looks to be a useful addition to the squad for the run in. Their constant closing down on defenders and the goalkeeper makes opposition centre backs have no time for rest. This means in the second half of a game Wilder makes his substitutions to push the attacks home against weary legs.

At Watford it took Watmore's goal contributions up to 11 for the season (seven goals and four assists), with four of those goals and three of those assists coming after him being brought on as a substitute. He really is a 'super sub' and if his injury wrought knees have to be managed then so be it. He seems to have gained some more pace as defenders appear to be travelling in his wake as he bears down on goal.

Hopefully young Josh Coburn will now get the nod as the second substitute striker as he does appear to have the goal poacher instinct required of a good centre forward. His movement up front is improving and even if he scores off his backside or his thigh then that’s fine as they all count in the end.

Sporar seems to be further down the pecking order of strikers to play games. Whether this is because of contractual reasons (as suggested by our own Werder), or he has not bought into the team spirit or ethos as he does seem to be adrift at present.

Matt Crooks looked a bit better against Peterborough but his performances do seem to have taken a dip over the last few weeks. Perhaps he is carrying an injury but his place in the team is not assured with McGree now fit and raring to go.

The defence is still pretty strong for Boro and it is interesting that Wilder has constantly  praised the efforts of Dijksteel, Fry and Paddy. Hopefully Lumley had the grace to say to Paddy how grateful he was for saving his blushes after another rush of blood to the head nearly gave a goal away yesterday. I think Lumley has the makings of a decent keeper If he can control his rash decision making. Perhaps Lumley needs some mindfulness sessions to help his concentration as his shot stopping skills are pretty good!

Boro whoscored.com statistics are:

STRENGTHS  
+ Attacking down the wings Strong
+ Creating long shot opportunities Strong
+ Creating chances through individual skill Strong
+ Creating scoring chances Strong
+ Stealing the ball from the opposition Strong
WEAKNESSES  
- Avoiding individual errors Weak

PLAYING STYLE

  • Attempt through balls often
  • Control the game in the opposition's half
  • Attacking down the right
  • Play with width
  • Take a lot of shots
  • Consistent first eleven
  • Opponents play aggressively against them

Turning to our opponents, it is perhaps unsurprising that Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrović had another MOM performance against QPR in the West London derby victory. He scored both goals in trademark fashion, and was a menace all game. This takes his tally to 37 goals scored in 36 Championship games.

Whilst  Aleksandar Mitrovic has been grabbing all the headlines for the team, there has been another player who has been quietly emerging as the team’s second-best player. It is the Welsh midfielder, Harry Wilson who has been having his career-best season when combining goals and assists (10 goals and 13 assists). Wilson has scored 10 goals at a rate of 0.31 goals per game, putting him in the 95th percentile. He is also outperforming his xG output of 0.23 goals per game. Wilson has taken 2.3 shots per game, hitting nearly one-third of them on target. He also touches the ball in the opposition penalty area just under four times a match. Wilson has attempted 4.3 dribbles per game so far this season, with a success rate of 75.35%. Harry Wilson has been quietly outstanding for Fulham this campaign. He is very likely to play in the Premier League next season. The question is whether he will play for Fulham or some other Premier League team? Should Wales qualify for the World Cup later this year, Harry Wilson must be in the squad flying to Qatar.

Fulham whoscored.com statistics are:

STRENGTHS  
+ Finishing scoring chances Very Strong
+ Attacking down the wings Very Strong
+ Creating chances using through balls Very Strong
+ Creating chances through individual skill Very Strong
+ Creating scoring chances Very Strong
+ Defending set pieces Very Strong
+ Counter attacks Strong
+ Attacking set pieces Strong
WEAKNESSES  
- Stopping opponents from creating chances Weak
- Aerial duels Weak

PLAYING STYLE

  • Attack through the middle
  • Possession football
  • Short passes
  • Attempt through balls often
  • Control the game in the opposition's half
  • Non-aggressive
  • Consistent first eleven

* Strengths, weaknesses and playing styles are calculated from statistics of each player's latest two seasons

MATCH FORECAST  
Fulham will score as a result of an opposition error Very Likely
Middlesbrough will create many scoring chances Likely

* Match forecast is generated from clashes in team characteristics.

© WhoScored.com

The general forecast is interestingly either a home win for Boro or a draw!

I personally think the strong team spirit created by Wilder will be a strong component in the result of this game. Did anyone see Lee Peltier's smiling face and body wiggle yesterday when he came on as a substitute for Jones? It just personified for me the bonding of the Boro players.

So come on you Diasborians in the words of Delia Smith the Norwich Chairman”let’s be avin yer”

Me ?

I have an Exmil challenge to win so I’m going for my predicted win  2-1 to Boro.

OFB


Philip of Huddersfield
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I like Bob’s analysis and would love him to be right in forecasting 2-1 to the Boro but we are playing the stand out team who are strolling back to the Premiership.

It will be a major achievement for Fry and the defenders to stop Mitrovic scoring and keeping Wilson from scoring or creating chances.

So the team will have to play better than against the Posh and, if so, even with the fervent crowd behind them, I’ll take the draw now.

Philip of Huddersfield 


Philip of Huddersfield
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Forgot to add my biggest concern - the goalkeeper, Lumley -  can he play 90 minutes without dropping a clanger? - I’d love to say ‘yes’ but then I’m a realist.

I have this awful feeling that if Boro achieve a top 6 place then Lumley could ruin everything with his calamitous goalkeeping - am I the only one who thinks this?

Philip of Huddersfield 


Andy R
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Top work, OFB.


Martin Bellamy
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I think we all have concerns about Lumley, but as well as his errors he’s also made some great saves this season. 

Dael Fry nearly cost us a goal yesterday so I suppose everyone can make a mistake. 

I think we’ve got a chance against Fulham but it won’t be the end of the world if we lose. I’m going for a foam handed 1-0. 

Once again, many thanks to OFB for the stat filled opener. Your efforts are much appreciated. 


exmil
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OFB, thanks for an informative opener.

Come on BORO.


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David in Cumbria
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Before I came to the Diasboro site tonight to finish looking at the comments re the Peterborough result I wondered if OFB would already have the Boro v Fulham preview up and sure enough there it was. Thanks OFB.

It's early in Coburn's career but his ability to get the ball into the net even if not by a conventional shot or header is hopefully a sign of a natural striker.

The way Boro started against Peterborough made me get through the first (small) glass of Malbec pretty quickly and another one was still needed even after the second goal. The third glass later was a celebratory one! I hope I don't have to go through the Fulham game wishing I could have sneaked a bottle into the Riverside for what I expect to be a difficult game against a team that seems so much better than the rest of the league though Tottenham weren't able to show their "superior" Premier League play against us at home.

5 home games in 25 days this month. I will just have time to travel back before setting off again and I will be 74 in the middle of that. 

(It was good to see to see the happy packed Boro supporters end behind the goal at Peterborough.)


K P in Spain
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Thanks OFB for another informative opener; I particularly liked the statistics; let’s hope we can play to our strengths and minimise Fulham’s. 

I would take a 0-0 now and then hope we can follow it up win a home win against the Tigers on Saturday. 

We will have to defend better than we did on Saturday at times and if we do then we should be capable of at least a point; three would be icing on the cake!  😎


Ken Smith
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What a brilliant set of statistics from OFB. I even feel more confident of a win on Wednesday night than I did at Peterborough. That would be 9 successive home league wins which I’m fairly certain has never happened in my lifetime, but I need to delve into the dim and distant past to see if it has happened before, so watch this space. In the interim I’ll go for a 2-1 win, but a draw wouldn’t be disastrous. What I will say though is that Chris Wilder’s substitute appearances are more akin to what happens in Super League, bring on one’s best interchanges to play against weary opponents. The only difference being is that in football once a player has been substituted he cannot be recalled.

This post was modified 1 month ago by Ken Smith

Plato
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Yes, it's lovely enjoying a 4-0 and even better away from home. C- W has got his system working and the points are rolling in. Now to the minus points, our keeper must stop this rushing off his line, and I do mean stay on your line. Last night on the box two important matches were decided by a keeper joining the melee in his box, the ball was promptly scraped over the line by someone making contact with any part of his body, be it knee , thigh, or backside, no shot was needed, because no keeper was there to spoil things. With regard to Young Josh, his First duty was to be there to put the ball in, and that duty he performed. No nerves, no fear, what's not to like.    


Ken Smith
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Well what a task I set myself to ascertain whether Boro had ever won 9 consecutive home league matches in a season, and how one’s memory can play tricks on one. First of all it’s surprising to discover that in Jack Charlton’s promotion season in 1973/74 that Boro only won 7 consecutive home matches.

The following seasons there were three times before this season when Boro won 8 consecutive home matches in 1925/26 (the Camsell promotion season) but Boro also won the first 3 home matches in the following season, so 11 in all though that’s not really what I was looking for. Boro’s other seasons when they won 8 home wins in a row were the 1930/31, 1971/72 when they won their first 8 home matches, 1987/88 and 1997/98.

However, what had escaped me was the fact that Boro had won 9 home league matches in a row on 3 occasions in my lifetime, the last time in 1980/81 but previously to that in 1949/50 and 1954/55. In fact in 1949/50 it could have been 14 matches as on the 11th March they led Manchester United 2-0 at halftime only to lose 2-3. 

Also amazingly in 1954/55 after relegation and drawing the first match at Plymouth and then losing 8 consecutive matches which obviously placed Boro bottom of the league with only one point from their first 9 matches, Boro won their first match at home to Lincoln City 2-1 on the 25th of September, and that was the first of 9 successive home wins including a 6-0 win against West Ham but followed by a 0-9 reversal at Blackburn which didn’t seem to deter them as they beat Fulham 4-2 in the next home match.

Nevertheless we have to go back to the 1913/14 season during which Boro succeeded in finishing 3rd, their highest ever placing in the First Division when Boro won 11 consecutive home league matches. Boro still have a shout of equalling or even beating that record this season but that would take a Herculean effort. 

Incidentally Boro’s best home record was in the promotion season of 1901/02 when they won 15 and drew one and only lost one of their 17 home matches, though their winning home sequence was only 8. 

Also to finish off Boro’s home statistics against Fulham, Boro have won 17,drawn 7 and lost 8 of their league meetings though in recent encounters Boro have lost only once at home (in 2018) and won 9 of the last 15 matches. Boro’s biggest win was 6-1 in 1926, but more recently 3-0 in a Division 3 clash in 1987. Their biggest home defeat was 1-4 in 1982. 


Clive Hurren
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Thanks to OFB for a superb opener, and to Ken for another statistical master-class! 

A tough game this one on Wednesday (but aren’t they all in this league?) We’ll need to cut out the mistakes we made at Peterborough, or we’ll lose.

I’d settle for a point if offered it now, so I’ll predict 1-1. I suspect this will be an open, exciting game. Let’s hope it’s not too open! 


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Original Fat Bob
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Allan in Bahrain
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I'm hoping for a win. The stars are in alignment and I feel it in my water.

At the moment the A.I. predictor shows we are expected to be 4th, but looking at everyone's fixtures it will definitely be all on the last day.

 


jarkko
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OFB, thank you for a fine opener.

Boro have played their last four second-tier matches away from home, accumulating seven points during that time.

Boro have averaged 2.11 PPG at home this season and are yet to be defeated by a top-six club on home soil. 

Interestingly enough, the Cottagers have averaged 2.11 PPG away from home this season, with Fulham also undefeated in away games against sides in the top-six. 

So the obvious conclusion is a 1-1 draw. But I think we can go one step further and gain a 2-1 win tomorrow. Balogun and a late Watmore goals keeping our record at Riverside going on.

Up the Boro! 


Ken Smith
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I’ve always maintained that looking at the Championship League Table has been a complete waste of time and that if Boro are still within a point of the playoffs with 4 matches remaining, then it’s all systems go. Not many if any would have agreed with me, but that now appears to be the reality. The one saving grace is that Boro’s goal difference after the weekend is now worth an extra point advantage over Boro’s contenders excepting Nottm Forest whose turnaround since the first half dozen games has been staggering.

Nevertheless there is little to choose between the big guns at the moment and I expect little will change until after the Easter fixtures. As Craig Johns explains Blackburn have been hit with injuries and suddenly they have scored fewer goals than Boro and have also played two games more. As Marcus Tavernier has explained Boro can only take one game at a time and not get ahead of themselves. Sheffield United have only two more away games remaining, so the League table at the moment is disjointed. 

If I was a betting man I’d have Forest, Sheffield United, Blackburn and Huddersfield as Boro’s main protagonists above Luton and Millwall with QPR out of the equation. However I don’t go along with the theory that some teams will have nothing to play for, and Boro are an example of that.

In 2011 Cardiff before their penultimate match of the season were already celebrating promotion, but Boro with “nothing to play for” won 3-0 and the Welsh team’s dream was ended as they even lost in the playoffs.

A year later Boro with “little or nothing to play for” delayed Southampton’s promotion celebrations as they beat the Saints 2-1 at home in the penultimate match of the season.

Conversely in 2015 Fulham with “nothing to play for” in the penultimate match of the season beat Boro 4-3 to ruin Boro’s automatic promotion aspirations, and as we all know Boro lost 0-2 against Norwich at Wembley after we had completed the double over the Canaries in the regular season.

Every match is winnable on paper, but loseable on the field of play, and that  goes for almost all teams not only the Boro. Therefore nothing can be taken for granted, and the maxim of taking each game on it’s merits is never truer than it is today.

This post was modified 1 month ago by Ken Smith

Original Fat Bob
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Topic starter  

https://twitter.com/boro_breakdown?s=11

This so hopefully the clip of Lee Peltier I mentioned in my preview entering the pitch on Saturday at Peterborough 

 

OFB


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Powmill-Naemore
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I don't think we can take it for granted Bournemouth will finish in 2nd place.

Bear in mind they still have to visit each of West Brom, Sheffield Utd, Coventry and Blackburn and also they will have to entertain
Boro, Fulham, Forest and Millwall at home. 8 of their last 9 fixtures against teams well in the mix for promotion this year. None of those are easy fixtures at all and they will have done well to come away with any more than 10 points from those 8 games. I did predict a while back that I believe we will be challenging for 2nd spot at the end of the season. Nottingham Forest too could be in that little mix with us and Bournemouth

Actually a play off spot is still all to play for for several clubs from Bournemouth all the way down to Coventry and possibly even West Brom if they can get a lift by beating Bournemouth on Wednesday.  Actually , should Bournemouth lose their next two (away to WBA and away to Sheff Utd - which is not beyond the bounds of expectation) and we win at home to both Fulham and Hull, we shall go into our away fixture with Bournemouth only 4 points behind them. It really is the most exciting run in in the Championship for quite a few years.

Of course, we will have to beat Fulham to maintain 2nd place as a realistic possibility, but there are several regulars in here that have already predicted Boro to win this match. I also have them down to beat Fulham in the Exmil Challenge (although with my record in that challenge it is probably a good indication we are going to lose !!!) and so I will stick by that. I am really looking forward to seeing the game on Sky tomorrow and I hope it lives up to my expectation of being an exciting and entertaining tie, with Boro seeing the game out winning 2-1. 

CoB


exmil
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Discipline !

Over the next 8 matches the following need to avoid the said number of yellow cards not to be subject to a 3 match ban:

Crooks 4

Howson 5

Peltier 5

McNair 6

It might be a case of managing the players/games to avoid losing key players for the big games/playoffs.

Come on BORO.


Ken Smith
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Powmill-Naemore

Sorry mate, but Bournemouth’s goal difference is worth another point alone. They’re a class side and too good for the Championship.


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exmil
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Saying the above, James Linington, tomorrow’s referee has issued 97 yellow cards in 25 matches, average of 3.88 per game.

Come on BORO.


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Powmill-Naemore
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Posted by: @ken

Powmill-Naemore

Sorry mate, but Bournemouth’s goal difference is worth another point alone. They’re a class side and too good for the Championship.

Class side? Fulham yes. Bournemouth no. 

Defeats along the way:
 3 Nov Bournemouth 1 Preston NE 2
12 Nov Derby County 3 Bournemouth 2
11 Dec Bournemouth 0 Blackburn Rovers 2
18 Dec Middlesbrough 1 Bournemouth 0
15 Jan Luton Town 3 Bournemouth 2
22 Jan Bournemouth 0 Hull City 1
5 Mar Preston NE 2 Bournemouth 1

... not to mention draws against much weaker Championship teams Blackpool, Hull, Peterborough (twice) and Reading.

To me these results hint at a team that is not so much "class", but one that definitely has its weakness(es).

Only my opinion of course, but I genuinely think Bournemouth are more vulnerable than you do.

All the same, we will see as the next few weeks will come and go.

Whoever has the right perspective, it should be an exciting next few weeks for a lot of Championship football fans up and down the country.


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Andy R
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I’m with you on Bournemouth, Powmill. I don’t rate their manager to be honest and was a bit suspicious when they made so many January signings. It looked a bit disorganised to me.

I’m not sure that we or anyone else will catch them given their games in hand but they are catchable and what’s more, if they do slip down into the playoffs I don’t fancy them to recover.


Philip of Huddersfield
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The list of losses for Bournemouth shows what a topsy  turvy league this is, although they seem to have turned the corner with only one loss quoted in the last 10 weeks.

You could probably take most of the top , say 10 teams, and come up with a similar list of poor results . Boro’s away results from the beginning of the year would make awful reading.  ( Let’s hope recent results continue.)

I still maintain that Bournemouth look the best bet to finish second even with games  against highly placed teams coming up.  

Managers are repeatedly telling us that there’s no easy games in this League - perhaps shown by Luton only drawing tonight with Peterborough.

I would think that most of us would gladly swop positions with Bournemouth.

Perhaps whilst we may have healthy differing views we can all agree that Fulham are miles ahead of the rest - win, lose or draw tomorrow night !!

Philip of Huddersfield 


MW in Darwin
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exmil

According to who scored.com, Crooks is on 12 yellows so only three from a ban, Howson and Peltier on 9 so six from a ban, McNair and Jones on 8 so 7 from a ban so probably safe. Any bookings in the FA cup are separate so any picked up do not count in their total.


exmil
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Where I got my stats from yesterday:

https://www.skysports.com/middlesbrough-stats

Do yours include cup matches ?

 

Come on BORO.


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exmil
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Posted by: @mw-in-darwin

exmil

According to who scored.com, Crooks is on 12 yellows so only three from a ban, Howson and Peltier on 9 so six from a ban, McNair and Jones on 8 so 7 from a ban so probably safe. Any bookings in the FA cup are separate so any picked up do not count in their total.

This also has Howson and Peltier on 10, McNair on 9 but Crooks on 12:

https://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/middlesbrough-fc/leistungsdaten/verein/641/reldata/%262021/plus/1

Come on BORO.


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Ken Smith
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Despite the unhappy fact that Boro have not won a home league game against a side starting the day in First place since beating Derby County 2-0 on the 13th of December 2014 and have actually lost 3 times since in that situation, I’m still going for a 2-1 win tonight. Nevertheless it would not surprise me if they fail to beat Hull City on Saturday as the Tigers are undefeated away from home in their last 5 matches conceding only one goal and including wins at Coventry and Peterborough, and draws against Birmingham, QPR and notably Sheffield United, and indeed as Powmill-Daemore alluded to they also won at Bournemouth in January. 

It would appear to me as Phillip commented on, it is almost irrelevant who the opponents are, every team is capable on any given day of causing an upset not only in the Championship, but in Leagues One and Two also.

This post was modified 1 month ago by Ken Smith

MW in Darwin
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The FA Cup game yellows are separate so don’t count in the 15 I believe. 


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werdermouth
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Well, it's a big game tonight and with many of last night's fixtures going our way then dare I say an opportunity (albeit a tough one) to press for a play-off place.

Many thanks to OFB for his impressively comprehensive match preview and all those stats point to an intriguing game. Fulham are indeed the standout side this season and are in all likelihood just two wins away from promotion - probably just one unless others win all their remaining games.

Can Boro add to the only six defeats of the leader's campaign? So far Blackpool, Reading and Coventry managed that feat before Fulham had played a dozen games but it was another dozen games before they suffered their next loss against Sheff Utd, which they reacted to by scoring 19 goals in their next three games! including a 7-0 vengeance over Reading) But it's been just two defeats in their last 15 now - with Huddersfield claiming their scalp and more recently a surprise win for West Brom just before the international break.

So it's going to be a huge task for Chris Wilder and his team to secure victory tonight and it will need everyone fully focused and executing their game-plan to perfection. I wonder if the Boro manager could try and spring a surprise tonight with possibly a return for Riley McGree - though the only player he could replace is Crooks but his height may be of benefit on the pitch. If not it could be the time to mix it up in attack with either the energetic Watmore or Coburn starting ahead of Connolly, who having started the last five, hasn't really done enough to be guaranteed another start.

Defensively, Boro have now kept three clean sheets in a row since that 4-1 defeat at Sheff Utd - though one wonders how given Lumley has appeared to be playing rush-goalie!

I went for a draw for this game in the Exmil Challenge but after four on the road in the Championship can Boro go one better with the return of home comforts? We shall soon see...


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