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    Manchester United vs Middlesbrough


    Manchester United vs Middlesbrough

    As 2016 draws to a close, there has been plenty of highs and lows for Manchester United, but it seems with the takeover of Jose Mourinho, they’ll be ending 2016 with some real momentum after another shakey start.

    It’s manager vs mentor, as Jose Mourinho takes on his old friend Aitor Karanka. Karanka was Mourinho’s assistant for the three years when they was both at Real Madrid.

    Team news:

    It looks like Wayne Rooney will have to wait even longer to break Sir Bobby Charlton’s goal scoring record, as the Manchester United captain recovers from a thigh injury. Luke Shaw is back in training but is still not fit for a start.

    Middlesbrough will be without Victor Fischer, as he is out injured, and Antonio Barragan misses out, due to picking up his fifth yellow card of the season forcing a one-match suspension.

    United fans will be hoping Henrikh Mkhitaryan starts, after he scored a spectacular goal against Sunderland on Boxing Day. It was his third goal in his last three games for the Red Devil’s.

    They’ll be a few familiar faces in the Boro ranks for the Old Trafford faithful, as Fabio Da Silva spent six years at United, and Victor Valdes left Manchester for Teeside this summer after just two appearances for the club. However, not everyone will get a warm reception, as Middlesbrough’s top scorer Alvaro Negredo helped Manchester City to win the Premier League three season’s ago.

    Middlesbrough

    Surprisingly, Middlesbrough have an acceptable record at Old Trafford. Karanka’s men won on penalties at Old Trafford in the League Cup last season after a 0-0 draw. It is however the first Premier League meeting between the sides since 2009, and the travelling men have scored three goals on three occasions at Old Trafford in the Premier League (1997, 1998, 2004) more than any over visiting team.

    In Boro’s first season back in the top flight, they will end 2016 outside the relegation zone. But goals have been lacking, only Hull have scored fewer with 14, as opposed to Boro’s 16. Middlesbrough have won just once away from home in their last 22 Premier League games. So although the North East side will travel to the North West outside the relegation zone, they are far from comfortable. 2017 will surely bring on a relegation battle for Middlesbrough.

    Manchester United

    Mourinho’s men are arguably the most improved team in the league since the start of the season. After it looked like United would struggle again, they've finally hit some momentum, and have not lost since October.

    As United look for their fifth straight League win in the same month for the first time since December 2012, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will look to help Manchester United to do so. The Swede is one of the most inform players in the league right now. Ibrahimovic has 12 league goals so far, just four less than Boro’s entire team.

    And if this wasn't impressive enough, the 35 year old Swede can surpass Lionel Messi and become the highest goal scorer in all of Europe in 2016 if he scores two goals. (Messi 51 goals, Ibrahimovic 50 goals in 2016)

    Despite United’s impressive run of form, they still sit in sixth, four points off their desired fourth spot, and will be ending the year outside the top five.

    They’ll be friendly exchanges at the start between the managers, but both teams need all three points to keep up the chase on their rivals albeit at other ends of the table.

    Date: 31/12/2016
    Kick Off: 15:00
    TV: Not in the UK
    Venue: Old Trafford

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    Item Reviewed: Manchester United vs Middlesbrough Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Grant McQuillan
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