Middlesbrough v Man Utd Betting Predictions | Back Draw at 29/10 with BefairPublished March 16, 2017
When a team with a striker crisis travel to face one with only 19 Premier League goals and four wins to their name this season, it hardly promises a classic, but this will be interesting to see how the hosts react to the sacking of Aitor Karanka.
The Spaniard had lost the support of the board and some fans, mainly because he didn’t allow creative freedom. Boro sit in the bottom three and had been sleepwalking to relegation.
Manchester United will be without 26-goal hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Sunday at the Riverside Stadium, with the Swede banned. Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial are also likely to miss out through injury and illness respectively, while Marcus Rashford was a surprise inclusion in the Red Devils’ starting XI for Monday’s FA Cup defeat to Chelsea on Monday night having previously been ruled out through illness himself.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been directly involved in 26 goals in his last 24 games for Man Utd.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 9, 2017
20 goals ?
6 assists ??
Like a fine wine... ? pic.twitter.com/ghMYyM5N2D
But Ibrahimovic is by far the most important absentee, having carried the team at times this season. Without him United are much easier to contain, especially with the way Boro have been regimented in defence. Without Zlatan, Jose Mourinho will lack the complete striker he has always liked and will have to slightly alter his tactics to get the ball into Rashford. The teenager works best when running into space behind the defence, but he will struggle to do so against a deep Boro backline. He’ll probably look to draw players out by drifting to the wings, which in turn creates the space in the middle for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata to run into.
But it is deeper in the midfield for United where this game could be decided. Both sides were given the run-around in that area by Chelsea and Manchester City respectively last week, which was particularly concerning for Boro because keeping it tight in the middle, with Adam Clayton and Marten de Roon, with a creative player just in front of them, is what Karanka demanded. Will they keep it the same now? For such a big game, you imagine so.
Paul Pogba struggled to get in behind N’Golo Kante, and he must show an improvement in order to help United get a result here.
Adama Traore is a great counter-attacking weapon for Boro and he will be so again here. But he must be given enough space to cause problems, and given the lack of pace elsewhere in the Boro team, Mourinho may be able to afford to double up on the winger.
Middlesbrough have proven their organisation away at top sides this season, and new found freedom after a managerial change and the lack of Ibrahimovic could inspire them to a point.