Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Blackburn Rovers

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship encounter between two sides with outside chances of making the playoffs as Middlesbrough host Blackburn.

Blackburn Rovers could move to within two points of the playoff positions with a victory over Middlesbrough at the Riverside on Saturday.

Rovers are currently just five points behind sixth-placed Reading following last weekend's 2-0 win over Blackpool at Ewood Park.

Gary Bowyer's side have only been beaten once in the league in 2014 so far, winning three and drawing the remaining two of their matches this year.

However, they know that they can't afford many slip-ups with six teams realistically still looking to displace the Royals in the final playoff spot.

Blackburn have struggled for consistency for much of the season, and they will need to address that problem if they are to sneak into the top six.

A good place to start would be by improving their away form as they have only managed three wins on the road all season, although two of those victories have come in their last four outings.

Bowyer could name an unchanged side for the match, although Markus Olsson is pushing for a start having recently returned to fitness.

A win for the visitors could effectively end Middlesbrough's playoff hopes, but should the result go the other way then the hosts would be right amongst the main huddle of challengers.

Only runaway league leaders Leicester have been able to beat Boro in their last nine league matches, although they have not won or even scored in their last three.

Back-to-back goalless draws have left them nine points adrift of the top six, and manager Aitor Karanka knows that he can't afford to let that gap grow any bigger.

Boro do have some impressive home form to fall back on, with just one defeat since the opening day of the season and four consecutive clean sheets at the Riverside, including keeping out the likes of Burnley, Wigan Athletic and Reading.

Karanka will be hoping that new boy Danny Graham is the man to end their drought in front of goal, and he is set for his home debut on Saturday, as is Nathaniel Chalobah.

Recent form

Middlesbrough: LWWLDD

Blackburn: WLLDDW

Possible starting lineups

Middlesbrough: Given; Varga, Gibson, Ayala, Friend; Leadbitter, Chalobah, Carayol, Kamara, Ledesma; Graham

Blackburn: Robinson; Kane, Hanley, Kilgallon, Spurr; Taylor, Lowe, Cairney, Dunn; Gestede, Rhodes

Sports Mole says: 1-1

Manager of Middlesbrough Aitor Karanka looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City and Middlesbrough at St Andrews Stadium on December 7, 2013
Read Next:
Result: Doncaster, Middlesbrough finish goalless
>
You May Like
Recomended from Sports Mole

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Wolverhampton WanderersWolves28195450222862
2Derby CountyDerby28158544232153
3Cardiff CityCardiff28156740251551
4Aston Villa28148642251750
5Bristol City2813964032848
6Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd281441042321046
7Fulham28129746341245
8Middlesbrough281351038271144
9Brentford28111074235743
10Leeds UnitedLeeds28134114033743
11Preston North EndPreston28101263228442
12Ipswich TownIpswich28124124140140
13Norwich CityNorwich28107112833-537
14Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest28112153543-835
15Millwall28810103333034
16Queens Park RangersQPR2889113140-933
17Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds28711103034-432
18Reading2878133036-629
19Barnsley2869132840-1227
20Bolton WanderersBolton2868142646-2026
21Hull City28510133945-625
22Sunderland28510133047-1725
23Birmingham CityBirmingham2866161639-2324
24Burton Albion2866162152-3124
Login, I already have my ad-free pass
Log in with Facebook to customise Sports Mole
Buy ad-free access (show me the options)
Buy monthly ad-free access for £1.20/month
Buy yearly ad-free access for £12 (2 months free)
Settings - Logout - Manage your account
Settings - Logout - Manage your account
LIVE SCORES VIDEPRINTER
expand