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Boro v Sheffield Wednesday 0-0

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Middlesbrough v Sheffield Wednesday

Tuesday, January 30th. 1945 hours

Riverside Stadium

 

The Form

 

Boro come into this one on the back of a last minute defeat to Brighton in the FA Cup, viewed by some as a blessing in disguise due to the fact there's no replay, but ultimately it's a loss in a game we could have won. So we're back to the job at hand, trying to gain promotion to the top table - Top 2 is probably out of our hands so looks like it's playoffs or bust for Boro. However Pulis' men are yet to find any consistent form and the Riverside is not the fortress it has been in the past....

 

Sheff Wed beat Reading 3-1 on Friday to advance to the 5th round of the Cup, with Nuhiu bagging himself a brace before George Boyd put the finishing touches to the result. The Owls' league form is more of a cause for concern however, with them currently languishing in 17th in the table and having only won 2 games since the start of November. Gary Hooper is their main danger man with 11 goals this term, and ex-Boro duo Jordan Rhodes and Adam Reach have both hit the back of the net a few times this season....

 

The Line-Up

 

I think if Ayala is fit, he plays, but at the time of writing I don't know if he was taken off yesterday as a precaution or because of a fully fledged injury. I also think it's between Gestede and Assombalonga up front but I've opted for Rudy as he's a bigger target for Traore to hit. The rest of the team pretty much picks itself.

 

As a side note, we blatantly need an natural left winger. I feel Braithwaite/Bamford/Fletcher have all tried and failed out there as it isn't their natural position....

 

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The World According to Pulis

 

What day are press conferences for Tuesday games? Will be updated when it happens anyway....

 

The View From The Other Side

 

You can find out what the Sheffield Wednesday fans think 

here...

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Think this could be a season defining game if I am honest.

 

Can not afford to lose anymore home games

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Well after wins for Fulham and Bristol at the weekend the pressure is certainly cranked up for this game. We badly need to win to keep up with the other teams ahead of us. And Pulis desperately needs a home win and some goals.

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We're heavy favourites in this one, but that's never stopped us before. Wednesday will be buoyed by their 3-1 victory over Reading, we'll be a bit downtrodden from our 1-0 loss. I predict a cagey 1-0 home victory, Leadbitter off a late penalty.

 

I'd probably go with your starting XI, there's calls for Shotton to be moved to CB and Christie to RB, but Shotton is playing well at fullback currently and I would like to see Fry given a shot.

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I'm with you on your lineup. OMG. Neither Bamford or Braithwaite offered anything on saturday but Braithwaite is probably the one of those two who will offer most starting on the left.

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Must win game for me if we are serious about doing anything this season.

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Almost 2 thirds into the season, 4 points off the play-offs... I wouldn't call this must win for anyone but every home game now should be seen as a big opportunity for 3 points regardless of where they are in the table. Got to be better at home as a whole and start picking up points there as I think that will define whether we reach the play-offs or not. But this game singularly won't define our season and our targets. Even if we get thrashed, worst case scenario after this game puts us only an extra point off the play-offs and dropping 2 places if Sheffield United, Leeds and Preston win against Villa, Hull and Forest respectively.

 

That all being said, I think we should win this game. We managed to edge them at their ground, something we've not regularly been able to do until the promotion year. Despite their FA Cup exploits, they haven't scored in the league since Boxing Day. We haven't scored at home since that day either but we've managed 3 in both our last away games.

 

I would like to see Clayton in that midfield over Leadbitter but can't argue with Gestede being the man up front.

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With the left side being such a problem, maybe we should change the system:

 

-------------------- Randolph ------------------

-- Shotton --- Ayala -- Gibson --- Friend --

------------ Clayton -------- Howson --------- 

-- Traore ------------------------- Downing --

----------- Gestede --- Assombalonga ------

 

Or give Johnson 90 minutes (controversial) but seeing how Pulis has improved Traore so much there could be some hope. Him playing can't be too much worse than Braithwaite/Bamford/Fletcher out there, can it?

 

-------------------- Randolph ------------------

-- Shotton --- Ayala -- Gibson --- Friend --

---------- Clayton -------- Howson ----------- 

-- Traore ------- Downing ------ Johnson --

---------------- Assombalonga -----------------

 

Hope to see Clayton in the middle being encouraged to playing more expansively (and hopefully Ayala is fit).

 

Also hope Pulis keeps working with Assombalonga in training. I think Gestede is as good as he's going to get, but if Britt works on his all round game he could be a massive asset.

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I don't think Downing has played more than a couple of good games on the left in his second spell. He lacks the pace to be an orthodox winger but is good controlling things through the centre or cutting in on from the right.

 

Would also like to see Clayton given a prolonged run of games so he has time to adapt to Pulis' more direct approach. But reckon Leadbitter will be back in for this one, or maybe Howson could be given a rest as I think he has started every game under Pulis so far?

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Has our passion for MFC fallen so low that we only have 9 posts on the day of a game?

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Has our passion for MFC fallen so low that we only have 9 posts on the day of a game?

 

It's pretty dire isn't it. There are just not that many posters anymore.

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I assumed it was just more to do with the transfer window and the quick turnaround between games

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I think there was a good 30/40 posts on the Brighton thread before the game started. Probably quiet because the January transfer window is so close to shutting, and the starting XI is close to being settled.

 

Think we need a good result tonight, don't think the performance is too important. Wednesday lost 0-3 to Burton at home recently, but have also just drew with Cardiff and stuffed Reading 3-1 in the cup so might be on a little bounce just in time to face us...

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Has our passion for MFC fallen so low that we only have 9 posts on the day of a game?

 

I don't think so. I just think our middling form has made it a bit harder to get too excited at the moment. I'm sure getting two good wins on the bounce will have people's interest back up.

 

I'm looking forward to this one. Feels like we haven't had as many games under the lights as we have done in recent Championship seasons.

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TP could definitely do with a win tonight and I have a feeling we'll get one. On paper three 1-0 losses at home seems pretty dismal, but Villa was very early days and we were desperately unlucky not to beat one of the league's form teams in Fulham.

 

Didn't see the Brighton game but according to the highlights we were okay and possibly unlucky not to win..? Can't make a habit of being 'smash and grabbed' though, would be good to get a first half goal tonight.

 

I would go with the team that started at QPR, with Fry replacing Ayala if he's injured as Traore just looks so much better with Shotton behind him. Going to go for relatively comfortable 2-0 Boro win, Britt FGS.

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