Premier League Preview – Middlesbrough
There is no doubt that the next fixture to take place at Selhurst Park is a huge game for both sides as the Eagles welcome Middlesbrough to South London.
Following the debacle of the last game at Selhurst, Palace were arguably unlucky to lose at Stoke City but after a week off to make way for the FA Cup, fans will be hoping that the rest has done the players good.
The visitors sit just three points ahead of Palace in the Premier League in what is turning out to be a battle at the bottom of the table that is likely to involve several sides as the season progresses to its climax.
Aitor Karanka lead his side to victory in the FA Cup with a narrow win over Oxford United from League 1. They now face the winners of Manchester City and Huddersfield Town in the quarter finals which could be a distraction heading into the next few league games.
Similarities have been made between this fixture and the home game with Norwich City last season which the Eagles managed a much needed but narrow win courtesy of an emotional Jason Puncheon. What us Palace fans would give for a similar outcome against Boro, ultimately providing the much needed boost they need with games slowly running out.
TEAM NEWS (courtesy of Physio Room)
CRYSTAL PALACE – Scott Dann (hamstring) is a major doubt while Bakary Sako (hamstring), Connor Wickham (knee), Steve Mandanda (knee), Jonathan Benteke (knee) and Pape Souare (leg) all continue to miss out.
MIDDLESBROUGH – Calum Chambers (foot) and George Friend (calf) both face a late fitness test as Antonio Barragan (hamstring) will miss out.
The last time the two sides met in South London was a little over four years ago in the Championship. Glenn Murray gave the Eagles an early lead before Peter Ramage doubled the advantage straight after the break. Murray added his second before Faris Haroun scored a consolation for the visitors. Substitute Kevin Phillips scored a late fourth to cap an emphatic victory.
Last FIVE meetings between the two sides;
- 10/09/2016: Middlesbrough 1-2 Crystal Palace
- 16/02/2013: Crystal Palace 4-1 Middlesbrough
- 25/08/2012: Middlesbrough 2-1 Crystal Palace
- 04/02/2012: Middlesbrough 0-0 Crystal Palace
- 20/09/2011: Crystal Palace 2-1 Middlesbrough
Last FIVE results for Palace;
- 11/02/2017: Stoke City 1-0 Crystal Palace
- 04/02/2017: Crystal Palace 0-4 Sunderland
- 31/01/2017: Bournemouth 0-2 Crystal Palace
- 28/01/2017: Crystal Palace 0-3 Manchester City
- 21/01/2017: Crystal palace 0-1 Everton
Last FIVE results for Middlesbrough;
- 18/02/2017: Middlesbrough 3-2 Oxford United
- 11/02/2017: Middlesbrough 0-0 Everton
- 04/02/2017: Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Middlesbrough
- 31/01/2017: Middlesbrough 1-1 West Bromwich Albion
- 28/01/2017: Middlesbrough 1-0 Accrington
Top two rated players from each team so far this season;
- Wilfried Zaha 7.41
- Christian Benteke 7.30
- George Friend 7.16
- Calum Chambers 7.15
ONE TO WATCH
The 21 year old Spanish youth international joined Middlesbrough in the summer and signed a four year deal after moving from relegated Aston Villa. Born in L’Hospitalet, Traore began his career with the local side before moving to the Barcelona youth set up in 2004. He made his professional debut for Barcelona B in 2013 and went on to make over 60 appearances for them but only managed one for the first team. The winger signed for Villa in 2015 but only made 11 appearances but Palace fans will recall his appearance as a substitute on his debut, his lightening pace causing the Eagles all sorts of problems, particularly Pape Souare who put through his own net after some great wing play.
Final league position – 18th
It is so difficult to pick the three teams to go as there are so many in the mix right now. That will no doubt be narrowed down as the season progresses but there is a real concern that Middlesbrough’s return to the top division will not last very long. Favourites with the bookies right now are Sunderland, Palace and Hull but Boro are not far away at all currently at 11/10 to go down, and as we simply cannot predict Palace to go down then it could be Aitor Karanka’s side that succumbs. The fact that they struggle to score in the Premier League could well be their downfall even though they are hard to beat.
- TEB prediction – home win
- Catherine Wilson’s prediction (see link below) – draw
- Who Scored prediction – home win
BETTING ODDS (courtesy of Paddy Power)
- Home – 11/10
- Draw – 9/4
- Away – 13/5
- Both teams to score – 5/4