Preview: Middlesbrough v Manchester United

Middlesbrough will be hoping to recover from a disastrous losing streak when they host a Manchester United side determined to climb the Premier League standings.

Premier League
Date: 19 March 2017
Match Day 29
Kick-off: 14H00 (GMT+2)
Venue: Riverside Stadium

Referee: J. Moss
Assistants: S Bennett, E Smart
Fourth official: R Madley

Head-to-head summary:

Middlesbrough 100 27 22 51
Manchester United 100 51 22 27

Previous encounter:

Manchester United 2-1 Middlesbrough 31/12/16 (Premier League)

Manchester United goalscorers: A. Martial (85′), P.Pogba (86′)
Middlesbrough goalscorers: G. Leadbitter (67′)

Players to watch:

As Boro’s top scorer so far this term, Alvaro Negredo will be looked for penetration in the final third. The Valencia man, who is on loan at the club, has scored seven goals and assisted in four this campaign.

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba on the sidelines, youngsters Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have an opportunity to showcase their attacking prowess at the Riverside Stadium. Both men have seven goals to their name.

Team form and manager quotes:

The Boro have lost their last three games in all competitions, falling short 1-0 at Crystal Palace, and 2-0 at Stoke City, before being knocked out of the FA Cup at home by Manchester City on Saturday.

That disastrous run led to the sacking of manager Aitor Karanka in midweek, with caretaker boss Steve Agnew taking over.

Agnew has little time to settle before dealing with the formidable challenge the Red Devils pose.

United, meanwhile, have suffered only one defeat in their last 12 games across all competitions, a 1-0 loss to Chelsea in the FA Cup, winning eight and drawing three. Their most recent fixture saw them edge out Russian side Rostov 1-0 in the Europa League last-16 to claim a 2-1 aggregate victory.

Jose Mourinho’s charges are sixth in the Premier League standings, but could improve to fifth with a win, should other results go their way.

The Red Devils have struggled with fixture congestion due to their Europa League commitments this season, but Mourinho stated that he will not field a team of youngsters against Boro to rest players.

“What do you want me to do?” he said. “Do you want me to go to Middlesbrough and play with Nicky Butt’s (youth team) boys?” Mourinho told a press conference.

“Then what would say Hull City and Sunderland and the teams that are playing against Middlesbrough for the relegation battle? We cannot do this. We go with what we have. We cannot do another thing.”

Team news:

Boro could see Calum Chambers, Daniel Ayala, George Friend, Rudy Gestede, and Bernardo return after picking up knocks recently.

United will be without the services of star midfielder Paul Pogba, who has a hamstring injury, but Anthony Martial could come back into contention after training on Wednesday. Daley Blind is unlikely to travel with the team due to a head injury. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is sidelined through suspension after his elbow on Bournemouth’s Tyrone Mings.