Middlesbrough take on Derby County this weekend in a game that should provide great entertainment.
Another home game without a win in the week against Rotherham making it 3 without victory – is that starting to concern supporters?
The fact we’re still sitting towards to top of the table has prevented any real concern that no home win in 3 will have a catastrophic impact on the overall season.
Of course, if the run continues into 5 or 6 games, concern will start to grow and the league position will start to fall. The most concerning part of the last 3 home games have been the performances. Swansea was uneventful, Forest outplayed us and we never really looked like scoring against Rotherham. We’ll need to improve if we’re to end this run with a win against Derby on Saturday.
Derby make the trip north this week and are looking strong themselves, which danger men will Boro need to keep an eye out for?
It seemed to take Derby a few games to implement what Lampard wanted, but it now seems like they’re starting to click. I
n almost the opposite way to Middlesbrough, Derby are blessed with a wealth of attacking options. Lawrence proved once again on Wednesday he’s capable of scoring for fun in this league and will be a key threat at the weekend, especially if first choice right back Ryan Shotton is still injured.
The front players will rotate and there’s options, but for me Tom Huddlestone is key. If he’s allowed time and space on the ball, he’s passing quality has the potential to hurt us. If we can nullify forward passes, it’ll be more difficult for the front players to make an impact.
Boro’s attacking players particularly came in for criticism against Rotherham – can you see Tony Pulis making some big changes?
I actually can’t. And I think that’s mainly because the squad isn’t strong enough in the attacking areas to make big changes.
Assombalonga was criticised on Tuesday and missed some big chances, but he’s still the best striker at the club, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he leads the line at the weekend.
The main problem for me has been the omission of Wing, Chapman and Tavernier from the match-day squad. On Tuesday night, the bench was very poor. There was no one on there capable of changing the game.
Although I can’t see it, I’d really like to see Wing and Tavernier back on the bench on Saturday. They’re game changers and offer something different. Other than that, I really can’t see many other changes to the forward line.
Paddy McNair was handed a rare run-out against the Millers, has he got much chance of retaining his place this weekend?
McNair hasn’t really been able to establish himself since signing from Sunderland.
He was an early signing, so would have been hoping to cement a place before other arrivals. However, in a midfielder packed with players, right back is arguably the position he feels he can make his own.
The absence of Shotton forced Pulis to give McNair a rare start, but he didn’t look comfortable and it’s clear he needs more game time. If Shotton is out again, McNair is really the only other option so there’s a big chance he will start.