Ask the Opposition

Ask the Opposition 45: Middlesbrough

Manchester City will play their first game since that wonderful win against Barcelona, as they face Middlesbrough at the Etihad on Saturday. Aitor Karanka’s men sit 15th in the table with 10 points from 10 games, but Pep Guardiola will know that this will be no walk in the park for the Blues.

We caught up with Rob of in order to gauge his feelings towards Saturday’s game, and his views on the two sides in general.

Hi Rob, thanks for joining us. Aitor Karanka stated at the start of the season that 17th place would be ‘perfect for Boro’. Do you share this view, with the first ten games of the season in mind?

I’d be more than happy with a 17th place finish – anything higher would be a bonus really. For a promoted side coming up to the Premier League, the main focus has to be survival.

We’ve made a decent start, although Boro have dropped unnecessary points against Watford and Palace.

In Boro’s final season in the Championship, Karanka seemed to be on the brink of losing his job, before guiding the team back to the Premier League. What are your thoughts on the job that he has done with the club?

Karanka has done an exceptional job, coming in at a time when Boro were close to the bottom of the Championship, he’s turned the team around to one that plays with confidence and can compete in the Premier League.

Boro were busy in the transfer market during the summer, bringing in big names such as former Blue, Alvaro Negredo, and former Barcelona ‘keeper, Victor Valdes. Were you pleased with the business conducted?

We had a pretty solid transfer window, getting our business completed fairly early. It’s taken a while for Valdes to settle in, but for a keeper who’s returning from injury set-backs that’s expected. Negredo contributes to the wider team, playing a part in 4 of Boro’s 8 goals this season.

Is there an area of the Middlesbrough squad that you believe to be particularly strong or weak?

We’ll be short of goals this season, however we know that, and we know that Aitor Karanka sets his team out to be defensively strong. We saw this last season and relied on goal difference in the end to get us promoted. As long as it doesn’t come down to goal difference again this season, I’ll be happy.

On to Manchester City now. What are your perceptions of City as a club?

City are obviously a top team, having disposed of Barcelona through the week and putting 4 past West Brom the week before. The top of the Premier League is shaping up nicely, it’s going to be a close call but I think City will be Champions come May.

If you could choose one player from the current City squad to join Middlesbrough, who would it be and why?

Where to start… Both Sterling and De Bruyne have been in great form this season, however Aguero knows where the back of the net is so he’d be a welcome addition to the team.

And finally, please can we have your Boro team prediction and your prediction for the final score?

I’m hoping Man City v Boro will be a close game, if we set ourselves up like we did against Arsenal I can see it finishing 1-1 with Negredo opening the scoring on his return to the Etihad.

Predicted Boro line up: Valdes, Barragan, Chambers, Gibson, Friend, Clayton, Forshaw, de Roon, Traore, Downing, Negredo

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