Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Boro V Bournemouth; at Riverside Stadium Tomorrow (3Pm Kick-Off)

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Boro V Bournemouth; at Riverside Stadium Tomorrow (3Pm Kick-Off)

Article excerpt

Byline: with Gazette writer Philip Tallentire

our verdict Boro host Bournemouth looking to register their first home victory of the season. But they'll be up against a team who are unbeaten in four Premier League games.

Home form is crucial Aitor Karanka has made no secret about the fact Middlesbrough need to turn the Riverside into a fortress if they're to avoid the drop this season.

But it's fair to say Boro haven't exactly achieved that aim so far having taken just one point from a possible 12.

None of that blame can be attributed to the home supporters, who have been magnificent.

So why have Boro failed to prosper on their own patch? The answer is simple, they've lacked an attacking threat and have conceded sloppy goals.

The Watford game was a case in point. Boro managed just two shots on goal, neither of which was particularly threatening. And they shipped a shocking goal that featured several individual errors.

Watford looked vulnerable in the opening 20 minutes or so but Boro failed to exploit that defensive frailty, dropping deeper and deeper to the point where the attacking midfielders were operating almost exclusively in the middle third of the pitch.

Whatever formation Karanka chooses on Saturday, his team must play with more attacking intent.

Building on the Arsenal display In stark contrast with their home form, Boro have done reasonably well on the road.

The players were collectively outstanding in Saturday's goalless draw at Arsenal, carrying out Aitor Karanka's pre-match instructions impeccably.

Boro had a plan and executed it magnificently, soaking up waves of Arsenal pressure before hitting the hosts on the break.

Key to that gameplan working successfully was the inclusion of a player who could break at pace, thereby turning defence quickly in attack.

Adama Traore was that man and he was a revelation at the Emirates.

It's no exaggeration to claim Boro's plan wouldn't have worked without the Spanish winger because no other player in the squad can attack defenders with such speed and skill.

Selection issues The aforementioned Adama Traore has surely got to start against Bournemouth, regardless of the formation Aitor Karanka chooses.

He gives Boro an X-factor, a threat no other player in the squad possesses.

At the back, Calum Chambers is available after sitting out the game against his parent club Arsenal.

But will he return? Boro defended brilliantly at the Emirates so it would be harsh if Antonio Barragan or centre-back Dani Ayala was to be left out to accommodate him.

If Karanka plumps for 4-2-3-1, one of Adam Clayton, Adam Forshaw and Marten de Roon would have to drop to the bench. On current form, that surely can't be Forshaw.

Meanwhile, Stewart Downing was surprisingly dropped at Arsenal despite being one of Boro's most consistent performers this season. …

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