Can Ipswich Town Exploit Boro's Weaknesses?
Middlesborough spent big in pre-season and by Ipswich Town standards very big. They started out as the favourites to win the Championship and return from whence they came but now you would get a good price on them to do the same, so where then has it all gone so very wrong?
On paper at least Middlesborough should be coasting through to Christmas at top of the tree but of course football is not played on paper and Boro are finding the going anything but easy so far.
Last Saturday they lost to one of the most underrated sides in the Championship in Bristol City. Prior to that they were defeated 0-3 at home to Derby County and now find themselves in 9th place and amazingly perhaps, three points adrift of the Tractor Boys.
When you look at the squad they have assembled for a collective sum in excess of 50 million pounds, it is hard to get your head around but three defeats in their last four league games paints a very different picture.
From Ireland international Darren Randolph in goal to Stewart Downing in midfield and top strikers Rudy Gestede and Adama Traore, there is a wealth of talent wherever you care to look but their more recent form of course suggests otherwise.
They have lost three of their last four matches and according to former Town forward Alan Armstrong, they are low on confidence and the natives are getting very restless.
Ipswich on the other hand, seem to be scoring goals for fun these days, and with Joe Garner likely to be back to bolster the attack yet further, the Blues will travel to the north east in a very buoyant mood!
There is nothing like winning to instil belief into a side and nothing like losing to lose it. Middlesborough, under the guidance of Gary Monk and first team coach James Beattie, are under pressure to perform and at the moment this is just not happening.
Town must go there believing they can sneak an early goal because if they do, there is every chance they will come away with some points, and maybe even all three!
Bersant Celina looks likely to start again and with Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner also in the mix, I would expect manager Mick McCarthy to include them all from the start on Saturday.
McCarthy skipped his Thursday press conference on account of ill health, so we have no more information on injuries and changes to personnel but if all is well, then the side should pick itself.
Frank Weston - Editor of Vital Ipswich