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Match Previews

PREVIEW: MIDDLESBROUGH V ALBION

25 January 2018

Kieran Cleeves
Albion play Middlesbrough to the Riverside Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Brighton & Hove Albion travel to the Riverside Stadium on Saturday afternoon, as they take on Middlesbrough in the Emirates FA Cup fourth round, kick-off 3pm.

The Seagulls overcame Crystal Palace at the Amex in the previous round, thanks to goals from Dale Stephens and Glenn Murray, and Chris Hughton’s team will now be looking to secure their place in the last 16 of the competition.

Boro beat north-east neighbours Sunderland 2-0 in their third-round tie at the Riverside, but lost their last home outing to Fulham, 1-0 in the Sky Bet Championship.

The sides last met on the final day of the 2015/16 Championship season, when a 1-1 draw meant the Teessiders booked their place in the Premier League, while Albion had to settle for the play-offs.


TEAM NEWS:

Chris Hughton revealed that Steve Sidwell remains the only long-term absentee for the Seagulls, while Jurgen Locadia is still recovering from a hamstring injury. Otherwise, Hughton has a full-strength squad to choose from.

Boro boss Tony Pulis has no fresh injury concerns ahead of Saturday's game, but could rotate his squad as they also look to push up the Championship table.

FORM:

ALBION: Following back-to-back Premier League draws against Newcastle United and AFC Bournemouth, the Seagulls secured a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace in the Emirates FA Cup third round earlier this month.

Callum Wilson’s late goal denied Albion all three points when the Cherries visited the Amex Stadium, but two league defeats have since followed, against West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea.

The Baggies scored either side of half-time to defeat Hughton’s men 2-0 at the Hawthorns, before the reigning Premier League champions showed their class in front of goal to win 4-0 on the south coast.


MIDDLESBROUGH: The Teeside club opened the New Year with a 3-2 victory over Preston North End at Deepdale, as new manager Tony Pulis secured his first win since his appointment.

Boro then comfortably progressed in the FA Cup against Sunderland, before a disappointing home defeat to Fulham, where Albion loanee Oliver Norwood dispatched a 95th-minute penalty to win the game.

But the Championship side returned to winning ways with an impressive 3-0 win against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road last weekend, which moved them to eighth in the league table.



LAST TIME OUT: ALBION

ALBION 0

CHELSEA 4
Hazard 3, 77
Willian 6
Moses 89

Albion line-up: Ryan; Goldson, Duffy, Dunk; Schelotto, Stephens, Propper, Suttner; March (Izquierdo 83), Gross (Kayal 68); Hemed (Murray 68).

Subs not used: Krul (GK), Huenemeier, Rosenior, Baldock.


LAST TIME OUT: MIDDLESBROUGH



QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0

MIDDLESBROUGH 3
Ayala 24
Friend 34
Traore 85

Middlesbrough line-up: Randolph; Shotton, Ayala, Gibson, Friend; Leadbitter, Howson; Traore, Downing (Christie 87), Bamford (Clayton 72); Assombalonga (Gestede 69).

Subs not used: Konstantopoulos (GK), Braithwaite, Johnson, Fletcher.



PLAYER TO WATCH: Britt Assombalonga

The striker is currently joint-third top goalscorer in the Sky Bet Championship with 12 goals in 28 appearances for Boro this season.

Assombalonga signed for the Teeside club from Nottingham Forest at the start of the season for a reported club-record fee of £15 million - following prolific spells at both Forest and Peterborough United.

The forward has pace, power and an eye for goal - reaching double figures in each of his past five seasons, including 33 goals for the Posh during the 2013/14 campaign.

Despite only scoring once in his previous ten games, the 25-year-old will be desperate to get back on the scoresheet and add further to his goal tally, as Boro also go in search of promotion.


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