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2 key battles that will decide Middlesbrough v Fulham



Middlesbrough have endured a very tough start to the season, sitting just one point above the bottom three in the Championship. 

Jonathan Woodgate is unsurprisingly coming under pressure, with Boro having only narrowly missed out on the play-offs last season under the sacked Tony Pulis.

The former Real Madrid defender will be lifted by the positive display at Huddersfield on Wednesday though, where Boro had the better chances and deserved more than the final 0-0 score-line, and look to use it as something to build on.

In contrast, Fulham have made a strong start to the season under Scott Parker, only lying outside the play-offs on goal difference.

With the congested nature of the table though, the Whites could move up the table or slide down the table very quickly, so Parker cannot afford many slip ups, especially at struggling sides like Boro.

Here, we look at two key battles that will help decide a game in which both sides need the points for differing reasons:

Aleksandar Mitrovic v Daniel Ayala

Aleksandar Mitrovic would be a gem of a player for any Championship side.

He possesses the ability to terrorise Championship defences, with his aerial ability and strength being crucial to a team at this level.

Already this season, he has scored 11 goals, won 42 aerial duels and maintained pass completion rate of over 80%.

Middlesbrough have a proven quality Championship performer of their own in the form of Daniel Ayala however, and the contest between the pair is likely to prove quite a battle.

Ayala was one of the best players on the pitch at Huddersfield, his tackling and aerial ability coming to the fore in Boro’s impressive clean sheet.

Of course, he will have his hands full up against the Serbian international, but if Boro have any hope of springing an upset, then he and the rest of backline will need to keep him quiet.

Joe Bryan v Jonny Howson

Former Bristol City left-back Joe Bryan has had a very impressive start to the season. He has been defensively sound and also offered an attacking option down the left flank.

The stats are impressive too, having made 42 tackles, provided 3 assists and even popped up with a goal. Up against Bryan is likely to be former Leeds midfielder Jonny Howson.

The Yorkshire man has been one of Boro’s better performers this season, providing two assists from various positions, but may struggle to make an impact against arguably the best left-back in the league.

Howson may in fact be utilised by Woodgate in a more defensive wide midfield role, to guard against Bryan’s marauding runs down the flank.

If he succeeds in doing so, it will certainly limit Fulham’s attacking options and may give Boro more a foothold in the game.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: 2 key battles that will decide Middlesbrough v Fulham

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