Predicted Middlesbrough line-up to face West Brom in the Championship
Middlesbrough will travel south to the Hawthorns this weekend, as they gear up to take on fellow promotion hopefuls West Bromwich Albion in matchday 30 of the 2018-19 EFL Championship.
Boro are unbeaten in their last six matches across all competitions, with their latest match ending in a 1-1 draw against Newport County in the FA Cup. The Teessiders are currently stationed in the fourth place in the league standings, with 47 points from 28 matches (W12, D11, L5).
With just three points separating them from their Saturday’s opponents, who occupy the fourth spot in the table, Tony Pulis’ team will be looking to cut down that gap with a victory, having already defeated the Baggies earlier this season.
No injury or suspension worries for Pulis to contend with, heading into Saturday’s encounter.
Predicted Middlesbrough XI
Manager: Tony Pulis
Darren Randolph (GK)
An ever-present in the starting XI for Middlesbrough this season, the former West Ham United man is expected to start again on Saturday at the Hawthorns.
Dael Fry (RB)
The 21-year-old wasn’t involved in the cup tie against Newport County this past weekend but should replace Ryan Shotton at right-back on Saturday.
Daniel Ayala (CB)
The Spanish centre-half scored Boro’s only goal of the game against Newport County and had scored the late winner against the Baggies in the reverse fixture in August last year. He is set to make his 22nd Championship appearance of the season this weekend.
Aden Flint (CB)
The fit-again defender returned to the starting XI against Newport County and should be in the team once again this week.
George Friend (LB)
The 31-year-old is the only senior left-back available at Pulis’ disposal and will once again feature from the kick-off for the Teessiders.
Adam Clayton (CM)
The English midfielder made an appearance from the bench at the weekend but should be reinstated to the starting line-up for the trip to Hawthorns.
Muhamed Besic (CM)
The on-loan Everton man wasn’t involved in the cup tie against Newport County. Has been a regular in Pulis’ teams in the league and that is unlikely to change this weekend.
Jonny Howson (RW)
The 30-year-old midfielder has featured in every Championship match for the Teesside outfit this season and has contributed with five assists. Did not feature in the FA Cup and should start against the Baggies.
Lewis Wing (CAM)
The 23-year-old has impressed in the No.10 role in the past few matches and has come up with returns of three goals and four assists from 20 matches in all competitions. He should hold on to his spot in the lineup.
George Saville (LW)
Having made his loan move from Millwall to a permanent one earlier this month, the former Chelsea academy product has made a solid impression this term. Another start beckons for the Northern Irishman on the left flank.
Jordan Hugill (ST)
Spearheading the attack for the Teesside outfit against Darren Moore’s side will be Pulis’ main man Jordan Hugill, who has scored six goals in the Championship this term.
Aston Villa should not hesitate to raid Championship rivals and sign this prolific 23-goal hitman
Aston Villa Opinion: Neal Maupay would be an excellent signing for the Lions
According to the Mirror, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield Town are interested in signing Brentford forward Neal Maupay in the summer, with the Bees’ star showcasing his prolific nature in front of goal in the Championship this season.
The 22-year-old Frenchman has contributed with 23 goals and 7 assists from 40 appearances in the Championship this term and has been pivotal to Brentford’s success. However, with the Bees unlikely to finish in the promotion playoff places, they might find it difficult to keep hold of their star striker.
Maupay, who made his move to Griffin Park from French side St. Etienne for a fee of £1.6 million in the summer of 2017, has been a real revelation in the Championship and reports claim that Dean Smith is keen to reunite with the promising youngster at Villa Park, having previously worked with the Frenchman at Brentford.
The 22-year-old has established himself as a bona-fide goalscorer in the second-tier at Brentford and a move to either of the aforementioned clubs would be an ideal step in his career.
While Villa and Middlesbrough are fighting for the playoffs this season, Huddersfield will also be expected to challenge for promotion next season, having already been relegated from the Premier League.
Maupay has all the parts to make the step up to the Premier League in the coming days and would undoubtedly be a good signing for any promotion-chasing club.
To put things into perspective, Aston Villa would bag a massive coup if they manage to beat off competition from their rivals to get their hands on the coveted young prospect in the summer. In fact, the Lions should complete a swoop for the Brentford ace irrespective of where they play their football next season.
Tammy Abraham has been in blistering form at Villa Park this season, with the Chelsea loanee netting 24 goals in 36 games in the Championship so far.
The Englishman has quickly established himself as a firm fan favourite but his future still remains up in the air as Villa are likely to struggle to retain his services even if they manage to secure promotion.
The Lions do not have a quality back up for Abraham and that is exactly why the club’s links with the prolific Neal Maupay should be an exciting proposition for the fans.
Maupay lacks the aerial ability of someone like Abraham due to his relatively short stature but the Frenchman knows exactly how to combine his technical abilities with his upper body strength, not only holding the ball with his back to goal but also creating chances with his penchant for playing key passes in the final third.
Blessed with good instincts and awareness, Maupay not only has the ability to get into scoring positions inside the box but he excels with his link-up play as well.
Moreover, he can also fill in the boots of an attacking midfielder, with his versatility, quick feet and vision allowing him to operate as an attacking midfielder through the centre or out wide on the flanks.
The 22-year-old has averaged 3.3 shots and 1.3 key passes per game in the Championship this season, figures which underline his impact on the game.
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Villa currently sit inside the promotion playoff places following their recent resurgence in the Championship and the Lions might have a better chance of getting Maupay on their books if they manage to make it to the Premier League.
Brentford are unlikely to let him depart on the cheap but Villa’s financial muscle might give them an upper hand in this deal.
Middlesbrough signing this 26-year-old midfielder for £9m would be a massive boost if they get promoted
Middlesbrough Opinion: Boro should sign Muhamed Besic permanently
According to the Daily Mail, Muhamed Besic has been deemed surplus to demands at Everton, with Toffees boss Marco Silva claiming that the 26-year-old Bosnia and Herzegovina international doesn’t have a future at Goodison Park.
The same report adds that Everton are prepared to listen to offers of around £9million for Besic this summer. The Bosnian, who has also attracted interest from Turkish giants Besiktas and Fenerbahce, last played for the Toffees in 2017 and it is highly unlikely that he is going to don the royal blue jersey once again.
The 26-year-old has been on loan at the Riverside Stadium since January 2018 and it looks like Tony Pulis is going to have another chance to seal a permanent deal for the defensive midfielder, with Everton prepared to cash in on their out-of-favour star.
Besic has been an ever-present for Boro in the Championship this season, accumulating 2 goals and 5 assists from 33 appearances in the league. He is one of the key reasons why the club are still in the race for a promotion playoff spot, though it is very likely that Boro might once again fall short in what has been a season filled with highs and lows.
To sum it up, Besic has been one of the standout performers for Tony Pulis’s side in the middle of the park and making his stay permanent certainly makes a lot of sense.
The Bosnian international has proven his worth as a versatile midfielder who is capable of playing both No.6 and No.8 roles in the midfield, whilst also filling in admirably at right-back on a few occasions. He has done exceedingly well alongside the likes of Jonny Howson and John Obi Mikel at the heart of the midfield, living up to his reputation as a tough-tackling and all-action central midfielder.
Besic boasts of a pass accuracy percentage of 86.2, including 1.5 tackles, 1.5 dribbles, 3.1 long passes and 1.3 key passes per game, figures which show that he is more than capable of contributing a lot to the build-up play in the middle of the park.
In all honesty, Besic has been one of the mainstays of Middlesbrough’s midfield for a season and a half and his partnership with Mikel in central midfield has made Boro look like a much more formidable unit since the turn of the year.
Besides his technical abilities, flair and quality on the ball, Besic is someone who likes to keep things ticking with his passing and work-ethic, cutting out the attacks and shielding the rearguard.
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Apart from Mikel, Boro currently do not have a midfielder in their ranks who can match Besic’s attributes.
They need to keep hold of their first-team core if they are to challenge for promotion in the Championship or stay alive in the Premier League, depending on where they play their football next season. That said, it should be an absolute no-brainer for Tony Pulis to strike a permanent deal for the Everton star in the summer.
Buendia to receive a start? – Predicted 4-2-3-1 Norwich City XI to face Middlesbrough
Norwich City vs Middlesbrough predictions: Norwich City Line-up
Norwich City return from the international break with a tough trip to Riverside Stadium to face Middlesbrough on Saturday.
The Canaries are in excellent form at the moment, winning the last six games on a row. They are at the top of the table and Daniel Farke will hope to continue the winning momentum.
Middlesbrough, on the other hand, are positioned fifth in the table and will be desperate to get back to winning ways after losing their last three games.
Norwich City have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the game.
Probable Norwich City XI
Manager: Daniel Farke
Tim Krul (GK)
Krul is Norwich’s undisputed no.1 and he’ll look to keep a clean-sheet on Saturday.
Max Aarons (RB)
The young Aarons has nailed down his place at right-back and should start against Middlesbrough.
Christoph Zimmermann (CB)
Zimmermann has led the backline very well this season. He is one of the first names on the team sheet.
Ben Godfrey (CB)
Godfrey has formed a solid partnership at the back with Zimmermann. He deserves to keep his place in the team.
Jamal Lewis (LB)
Lewis has been a regular fixture in Farke’s starting XI this campaign. He will retain his place at left-back.
Tom Trybull (CM)
Trybull’s form has been impressive since the past month or so. On current form, he simply cannot be dropped.
Kenny McLean (CM)
Scored in the 2-1 victory over Rotherham before the international break and will be raring to get on the score-sheet at Middlesbrough.
Emi Buendia (RW)
With seven goals and nine assists this season, Buendia has been the Canaries’ creative force and will have to be at the top of his game to pierce Middlesbrough’s defence on Saturday.
Marco Stiepermann (CAM)
Stiepermann is the Norwich’s only natural no.10 that links the play between the midfield and the attack. He should keep his place in the team.
Onel Hernandez (LW)
Hernandez could be a threat for Middlesbrough defenders due to his raw pace and silky dribbling skills. He could be unplayable on his day and the home side will hope to keep the trickster quiet on Saturday.
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Teemu Pukki (ST)
One of the first names on the team sheet, Pukki has been a revelation for Norwich City this season. The Finn has shown his ruthlessness in front of goal and will be an all-day threat for Boro.
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