And so tomorrow The Posh come to town, a team languishing at the bottom of the Division and, if we’re honest, that doesn’t look like changing. Many people will be saying this is exactly the sort of team we should be able to win but this is Boro, we never do it the easy way. Chances are we’ll come out the blocks fast like we did against Barnsley, knick a couple of goals and then give the lead away. Or will we? Strachan has installed a new sense of strength and solidness into the team which has meant that when we have the lead we are able to keep it. The defence and midfield go into two solid banks of four and then, when we gain possession, break with pace and attack. Hopefully it will scare them into submission.
Know the Form
‘Boro are currently on a five match unbeaten run, containing two wins and three draws. Last time out we beat Barnsley 2-1 in a game which, if we had taken one of numerous first half chance, should of been put to bed long before before the final whistle. The team is much changed from the one at Peterborough, with only one member of it remaining to start on Saturday and whilst to some this is a bad thing, in reality it is not. The team is better in every aspect and though we have lost the creativity and skill of Johnson we still the same from Jonathan Franks and Scott McDonald will add much more than that. Peterborough in contrast have only won 1 of their last 9 and of those 8 which haven’t been won, only 1 has been a draw. They come off the back of a 2-0 defeat to Cardiff and will more than likely be looking to respond. The last time we played each other it ended in a 2-2 draw, a wonder goal and the referee saving them. How anyone can say Sean St Ledger was not tripped in the box in dying moments is beyond me, it was as clear as a live chicken in a bowl of eggs.
A couple of injury concerns were picked up by Boro against Barnsley, with Gary O’Neil and Chris Killen both reported to be nursing slight knocks. O’Neil should be okay to start, with a fitness test scheduled tomorrow in order to discover this and Killen is expected to only make up a place on the bench, with Miller coming in for him. Both Emanuel Pogatez and Scott McDonald whom started the last game lacking fitness and coming in early due to the lack of numbers came out unscathed and both will start on Saturday, with an improved level of fitness. Rhys Williams, David Wheater, Chris Riggot, Julio Arca and Jeremie Aliadiere will all miss out on this weeks game and Seb Hines and Matthew Bates remain long term absentees. Gabriel Zakuani will miss out for Peterborough and Charlie Lee is expected to return for The Posh, with the rest of the squad all fit.
Areas of Battle
Stephen McManus vs George Boyd
This is the key battle in deciding whether Peterborough will have any say in this game. If McManus can nullify the tremendous threat that Boyd poses then it is difficult to see where the threat of Peterborough would come from. It is obvious that McManus will have the beating of him in the air and also strength wise but those are the only advantages that McManus will enjoy. Boyd has the pace and superior technical ability and it is imperative that Peterborough use him in order to get a foothold in the game. This is perhaps the toughest challenge for Super Mac yet, and he better be on his toes.
Barry Robson vs Jake Livermore
Its experience versus youthful exuberance here in the middle of the park, as both teams will look to gain possession. Robson looks to be possibly the best signing so far for Strachan. The Scotsman tackles, tracks back, attacks with menace and has a killer final ball and is in general, a great all round midfielder. He has a knack for holding onto the ball when under pressure however with experience comes age and with age comes a lessening of pace,which is where Livermore will hope to gain the advantage. Livermore had the speed and skills to trouble the Boro midfield but depending on the formation he could be outnumbered in any case. Flood will look to tuck in and the two strikers to track back and those combined with Robson’s undoubted ability provide an extremely big challenge to the Peterborough loanee. There is no doubt he will try to overcome this challenge, however, it will not be easy.
Scott McDonald vs Craig Morgan
Since the loss of the likes of Mark Viduka, Yakubu and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Middlesbrough have really lacked a natural goalscorer and in the past 3 years have not been able to find a single one. Afonso Alves failed trying to become that scorer and Tuncay was never an out and out striker. Finally, however, we seem to have found our saviour. The top scorer for Celtic this season, McDonald started against Barnsley and despite not being fully fit he threatened throughout the game. He had shots, two of which forced good saves from Steele and he worked his socks off. He’s not the biggest and he’s not good in the air but he has pace and he has finishing. Either Killen or Miller will provide the aerial support. Morgan will have his work cut out in handling the Australian as Super Mac number two has the pace to beat him, the trickery and the sheer experience of holding onto the ball. If he can keep him quiet then the job is half done for Peterborough. Do Middlesbrough have another natural goal threat in their squad? No, to be honest, we don’t. And for this reason all our hope lies with McDonald, whom if he gets the better of Morgan will undoubtedly win us the game.
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