Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Big Match: Boro V Manchester City

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Big Match: Boro V Manchester City

Article excerpt

Boro have lost just the one game in 15 and have not been beaten at the Riverside since early December.

They have drawn more games than they would have liked lately, but the spirit and commitment displayed by the team has carried them through a run of tough games.

Southgate has stuck with the same side as much as possible, and generated a togetherness within the squad.

The attacking policy has paid dividends and you have to go back to mid November, when Liverpool visited the Riverside when Boro last failed to score at home.

At the same time Boro have not recorded a clean sheet at the Riverside in 2007, so a shut out tomorrow would be a welcome addition to the stats.

CITY are in freefall, leaving the proverbial managerial noose hanging around Stuart Pearce's neck.

They have lost their last five in the Premiership, including a 3-0 home defeat to Blackburn, who doubled the blow by knocking them out of the FA Cup on Saturday.

The dramatic dip has left City fourth from bottom of the table, although they have a six point gap between themselves and the relegation zone.

And the top flight is so close this season that they are only six points behind Boro, so a much-welcome win would provide further breathing space - and lift some of the storm clouds gathering around the City of Manchester Stadium.

MARK SCHWARZER: "The game against Manchester City is very important to us because we want to keep picking up points.

"We need to keep this run going and then sit back and see how it has panned out after the next four or five games. We want to finish as high as possible in the Premiership. If we keep picking up points over the next few games we will then see how we are placed.

"But we know that it will be a difficult game tomorrow.

"Mathematically we are not safe yet and City have been in the same boat as us for most of the season.

"If we want to finish the season well we have to continue to play consistently well and we have to show that we can beat teams in the bottom half like Manchester City."

STUART Pearce denies talks of dressing room unrest and is targeting all three points at the Riverside.

Speaking after Wednesday's 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Chelsea, he said: "There is talk of rifts in the camp, but you can't put on a performance like that against one of the best teams in the world if you have rifts in your camp - it just doesn't happen.

"I've got a fantastic job at a fantastic football club," he added. "I'm just looking forward to winning the game at Middlesbrough if possible.

"Do I have the chairman's full support? Well I don't walk past him (John Wardle) every day and ask him. The other night he bought me a sandwich at the reserve game and that's a real show of affection from him."

BORO have positive news on the fitness front, with only torn cruciate ligament victim Matthew Bates and youngster Seb Hines (broken arm) out of the first-team frame. …

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