Friday, 30 December 2016

Match preview: United v Middlesbrough

Hot on the heels of our Boxing Day victory over Sunderland, United wrap up 2016 at home to another North East side.

The Reds host a Middlesbrough outfit who have made a decent fist of life back in the top flight since their promotion last season, led by Jose Mourinho's former protege Aitor Karanka.

The pair worked together during their time at Real Madrid where Karanka was Jose's assistant and the United boss said it will 'seem weird' to face his friend in the opposite dugout tomorrow.

"He's a real friend, I want him to win and he wants me to win so it will feel very strange that we are against each other.
"It's the first time I have been in direct competition with him but that's football, sometimes brother against brother or father against son happens so that is even more difficult.
"So for 90 minutes he wants to win against me and I want to win against him.
"I'm in the race to win the match tomorrow and I think we have a good chance of that - it is our objective and I don't go further than that.
"I'm not interested in other teams, only us." 

Wayne Rooney is still sidelined having missed the Sunderland match with a groin injury and Luke Shaw is also doubtful but there are no new injury concerns. 
Former Reds Fabio Da Silva and Victor Valdes, plus ex City striker Alvaro Negredo, are among the visitors alumni and are set to feature. 

Boro sit in 15th place, four points above the bottom three and have proved to be a tough nut to crack having held both Arsenal and City and only losing narrowly to Chelsea.
Despite those notable results, they've only won once on the road so far this term (at Sunderland back in August), scoring 16 and conceding 20.
They hit a bit of a stumbling block but important wins against relegation rivals Swansea and Hull earlier this month mean the Teesside team will go into 2017 in good shape. 

This is the second in a mammoth run of five games in ten days as we travel to West Ham on Monday before cup ties with Reading and Hull in the first home games of 2017.

Form guide: United D W W W W W Middlesbrough D W L L W L 
Match odds: United 1/4 Draw 9/2 Middlesbrough 16/1
Referee: Lee Mason 

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