Sunday 19 March – Riverside Stadium – Premier League
Without a Premier League win in 10 games, Middlesbrough will start as underdogs against Manchester United in Sunday’s lunchtime kick off. However, with Jose Mourinho’s side in the midst of a hectic fixture schedule, it could be worth a punt on an upset.
Manchester United hold the upper hand over Middlesbrough when it comes to past meetings, with Boro’s last league win in this fixture coming back in 2005. Middlesbrough have only just returned to the Premier League this season though, and knocked United out of the League Cup on penalties last term.
After Rudy Gestede limped off with a hamstring injury against Manchester City, it’s likely that Alvaro Negredo will make a return to the starting lineup on Sunday. This could mean a place on the bench for Patrick Bamford, who hasn’t started a league game since completing his move from Chelsea in January.
United also have issues up front, and will be without leading goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic as he serves the second of his three match ban. Mourinho will be hoping that Marcus Rashford has fully recovered from his illness, while Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial could also return to the side after injury.
Middlesbrough v Manchester United Preview and Predictions
Middlesbrough’s winless run stretches back before Christmas, and the Teessiders were knocked out of the FA Cup by United’s neighbours Manchester City last weekend. Jose Mourinho’s side are smarting from their own cup defeat at the hands of Chelsea, and odds of 8/13 make them the favourites in the betting for the clash at the Riverside.
United will be looking for a reaction after dropping points against Bournemouth at Old Trafford, as they still try to climb from the sixth position they’ve occupied for such a long time. Avoiding defeat would mean 18 games unbeaten for the Reds, but anything other than three points would put another serious dent in their ambitions for a top four finish.
Middlesbrough are 6/1 to upset the odds and end United’s unbeaten run, but Aitor Karanka’s side have been in free fall of late and stories of a training ground bust up with Stuart Downing won’t help the manager. Despite Steve Gibson’s renowned patience, Karanka’s job is very much on the line as the international break approaches, so a price of 3/1 on the draw could prove to be a good bet.
A 0-0 stalemate at 9/1
With Middlesbrough’s mean defence and no Ibrahimovic for United, a goalless draw could be on the cards as a tired United slip up and Karanka buys himself some time.
Under 1.5 goals at 11/5
Middlesbrough are the lowest scoring team in the Premier League, and with United’s issues up front, this is a good price for a tight game.