After a dismal start to their Championship campaign, Middlesbrough are now finally on the rise and will host a side who have recently made it into the top six, Cardiff City, at the Riverside Stadium.
- Middlesbrough are unbeaten in their last four games
- Cardiff have registered two clean sheets in their last three league games but did concede five against Blackburn Rovers in the EFL Cup
- The two sides do not often draw, with just 3 draws between them in their 18 games
Both sides are in good form and would expect to take points from this fixture, they could potentially cancel each other out.
After not registering a win in their opening seven games in the league, Boro have since been undefeated in four games on the trot in all competitions and have picked up two consecutive wins in the league.
Beating Watford 3-2 in their last fixture, Riley McGree found the net twice in the opening 12 minutes before a comeback from Watford threatened to upset the party, Josh Coburn restored order in the 63rd minute and Boro were able to hold out for the win.
Prior to this, Middlesbrough put Bradford City to the sword in the EFL Cup, booking themselves a place in the fourth round with a 2-0 victory with thanks to Emmanuel Lath and Morgan Rogers goals.
They also picked up a very important victory, showing that they can go up against the big boys in the league, they beat Southampton 2-1 and goals from Riley McGree and a Jonny Howson penalty ensured a vital 3 points after going down after just 17 minutes.
Cardiff City Form
Aside from a disappointing 5-2 loss against Blackburn Rovers in the EFL Cup last week, Cardiff have a lot to celebrate with their league form.
Despite showing their vulnerability at the back in that fixture, they have conceded just twice in their last three league games, both of those goals coming in a 3-2 win against Coventry City where goals from Dimitrios Goutas, Karlan Grant and Kion Etete ensured that a late rally from Coventry’s Matt Godden was in vain.
They have kept clean sheets in their most recent win, a 2-0 victory when Rotherham came to visit, Etete again on the scoresheet along with Perry Ng, and the other shutout came away at Sunderland where Mark McGuinness sealed a 1-0 in the 84th minute despite not seeing much of the ball throughout the game.
A win apiece for the sides last season, with Cardiff winning the first and Boro the second, the season before that Boro won both fixtures and the seasons before that, both games ended in a draw.
Lewis O’Brien had to be withdrawn by Michael Carrick in their latest victory and the Boro boss will be keeping him out of the squad against Cardiff, he will join Alex Bangura on the treatment table.
Cardiff manager Erol Bulut has changes of his own to make, with Aaron Ramsey, Callum O’Dowda, Josh Bowler and Yakou Meite unavailable to him.
The reliable Paddy McNair and Jonny Howson, both with bags of experience, often do the dirty work. But it is their grit, determination and knowledge of the game that remain a real driving force behind Boro’s turnaround so far this season.
With Kion Etete scoring freely in recent weeks, the 21-year-old forward has found form and will want to kick on having already matched last year's goal tally.
Cardiff overall have certainly had the better season thus far, but Middlesbrough's momentum could cause them problems.