We go into the game bidding for four successive home wins and must be odds on favourites to do so.
Prior to the defeat against Stoke last weekend there were very real signs that progress was being made and that we could string a decent run of form and results together. Our home record has in the main been good this season and a confidence boosting win would be timely indeed.
Middlesbrough come into the game in the midst of a wretched run of form, winless in twelve and having failed to score in six of their last seven. Keeping a clean sheet has been key for us this season, posting a 100% record in games where we shut out the opposition.
Tomorrow should see a debut for Shay Given, whilst Shaun Wright-Phillips has been cleared to play following his FA charge. Middlesbrough are boosted by the returns of midfielders Didier Digard and Gary O'Neil after they both completed suspensions but defender Andrew Taylor and striker Jeremie Aliadiere (both ankle) remain on the Boro casualty list.
As Mark Hughes points out, Middlesbrough will clearly set out to make life difficult for us, something that hs been our undoing on occasion. Patience will need to be the watchword and it may not be a much of spectacle at times.
However, I take us to have enough quality to take all three points, and post a clean sheet on Shay Given's debut with a 2-0 win.
- Middlesbrough have won more Premier League matches against us than any other club; 11.
- We hold a 100% record when keeping a Premier League clean sheet.
- We have won our last home games against North-East opponents.
- Middlesbrough have lost five consecutive away games.