Today sees former Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk make his return to The Riverside Stadium for the first time since he was sacked by the club last December.

The 39 year old takes his Birmingham side up north and will be hoping to get all three points against his former club.

After a disappointing deadline day which saw Boro sign zero players, Tony Pulis said his press conference ahead of today’s game that his squad “isn’t good enough” to secure promotion, the Welshmen had to say:
“The squad isn’t good enough to get promotion. It hasn’t got the depth or the quality.

We missed out last year in the play-offs because we lacked a little bit of quality in certain areas, and I don’t think we’ve improved that so far.”

 

Team news

Middlesbrough are still without striker Rudy Gestede and defender Daniel Ayala as both players battle their way back to fitness from injury.

New loan signing Jordan Hugill is set to miss out as well as Tony Pulis confirmed the Teessider is lacking in fitness and won’t be fit till the international break.

Gary Gardner could make his Blues debut after he signed for the club on deadline day.

In terms of injuries Garry Monk’s side will be without midfielder David Davies as he misses out due to a long term knee injury.

 

Form

Tony Pulis on the other hand will be hoping to make it two wins in two at home after his Boro side beat Sheffield United 3-0 on Tuesday night.

Goals from Martin Braithwaite, Aden Flint and Stewart Downing secured the three points against The Blades and Pulis will be hoping his side can follow that victory up with another result. 

Birmingham City on the other hand will be hoping to register their first win of the season after being held to a 2-2 draw against Norwich City on the opening day.

Maghoma opened the scoring for the Blues but they were pegged back by a goal from Hernandez in the 83rd minute.

Garry Monk’s men thought they had won the game when Solomon-Otabor scored in the 89th minute but the celebrations were cut short as Hernandez got his second of the game with an equaliser in the 93rd minute.

 

Stat Attack

  • Middlesbrough have won eight of their last nine Championship home games (excluding play-offs), losing only against last season’s champions Wolves in March (1-2).
  • Birmingham manager Garry Monk took charge of 26 matches for Middlesbrough last season – in his two matches against sides he’s formerly managed, he’s lost them both (against Leeds in November 2017 and Middlesbrough in March 2018).

 

Prediction

I can’t see this game being one for the neutrals and the purest when it comes to football, I think it’ll be a scrappy game with the match being won or lost in midfield.

I think Boro will just about edge it with a workmanlike performance scoring from a typical Pulis set-piece.

Prediction: Middlesbrough 1-0 Birmingham

Result: Middlesbrough 1-0 Birmingham 
Thanks for reading,
By Jake Self

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