Fulham v Boro Preview
The race for automatic promotion to the Premier League continues on the weekend, as Middlesbrough head to London to take on Fulham.
It was so important for Boro to return to winning ways against Cardiff City on Tuesday night and they did just that. With Hull, Burnley and Brighton all winning their games, it could have been a costly night in the race for the Premier League but instead, it could prove to be the turning point Boro have been searching for.
Having gone a goal down to Cardiff, it would have been easy for the players to let recent results get on top of them and for their heads to drop. However, a comeback, which resulted in two second half goals without reply, could prove key for the remainder of this season.
Prior to the Cardiff match, thoughts were that the game started a new period in the season, a fresh group of fixtures to focus on, after a week long break from playing. What a great start to this set of fixtures the Cardiff game proved to be and now it's time to press on against Fulham.
Team news for Boro, ahead of the match at Craven Cottage, sees Ben Gibson return from suspension and he could slot in to the defence. Adam Clayton is unavailable due to suspension and Daniel Ayala is close but not ready for action. Therefore, the inclusion of Gibson could be the only change to the team which started against Cardiff.
Fulham, despite being at the wrong end of the table, have been in decent form recently, losing just one of their last five Championship games. Slavia Jokanovic's side have given themselves a 10 point cushion above the relegation zone and can feel a little more relaxed about their position coming in to this game. Recent home form has included two wins, two defeats and a draw.
It would be great to see Jordan Rhodes find the back of the net at Craven Cottage, as the Scot has failed to score in the previous two games. As the man brought in to score the goals which will secure promotion, it's vital Rhodes remains confident and this will happen by scoring on the weekend. However, the most important thing is the 3 points and it's set to be a tough match by the River Thames.
Boro are without a win from their last three away trips in the Championship but are undefeated in the last two. With a trip to Blackburn coming up in mid-week, now would be a great time to get back to winning ways on the road.
A run of four away wins in a row, during November, December and January show exactly what Boro are capable of when travelling. Anything close to that form now, would be a significant step towards automatic promotion.
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The win over Cardiff was just the start, of what will hopefully be a very successful run of fixtures in the lead up to Easter.