Brentford - Middlesbrough: Preview
Brentford vs. Middlesbrough: Preview

After pulling off one of the greatest FA Cup shocks of recent years, it's back to Championship action for Middlesbrough, with a huge three points up for grabs at Griffin Park.

Boro stunned Premier League champions Manchester City in the FA Cup third round last weekend with an excellent all-round performance. Patrick Bamford bundled in the opener for the visitors, before Kike rounded off the win in injry time. 

Manager Aitor Karanka will be hoping his players can show the seem determination and work-rate on Saturday, as they face the prospect of another testing away day. 

Brentford have surprised many this season and currently lie in 5th place in what is their first season back in the second tier of English football. The Bees have won their last three and will be hoping to extend that run on Saturday. 

Middlesbrough are on an impressive run of form, too. They have lost just one of their last 16 Championship games, but, worryingly for Aitor Karanka, have failed to win in their last three on the road. However after their heroics at the Etihad, they look to have overcome any away game difficulties and will go into the game at Griffin Park with no fear.

One key player in that win at City was centre-back Daniel Ayala. The Spaniard has been a key figure in the Boro defence, which has been as diffcult to break down all season, as Aguero and Co. found out. However, his side will have to cope without him for their trip to west london, as he misses out due to suspension. Otherwise Karanka has no fresh injury concerns. 

Brentford won 2-1 at Norwich in their last Championship outing and boss Mark Warburton could be could be tempted to pick the same XI on Saturday after Toumani Diagouraga and James Tarkowski have recovered from knocks picked up at Carrow Road. 

Middlesbrough won the previous meeting between the two sides 4-0 at the Riverside Stadium in September, but a repeat of such a scoreline seems unlikely for the reverse fixture, with both teams jostling for positions within the play-offs.