Middlesbrough vs Cardiff City Preview: Underachieving Boro host high flying Bluebirds

Middlesbrough take on Cardiff City at the Riverside stadium on Saturday for match-day 13 of the 2017/18 Sky Bet Championship season.

Middlesbrough vs Cardiff City Preview: Underachieving Boro host high flying Bluebirds
Martin Braithwaite celebrating his goal against Barnsley. (Photo: Mark Cosgrove/Getty)

Middlesbrough will be hoping to get back up the Sky Bet Championship table when they host high flying Cardiff City this weekend. 

Monk slightly below expectations?

Before this Championship campaign got underway, Middlesbrough were definitely in the conversation for teams looking to gain automatic promotion to the Premier League after the money that Chairman Steve Gibson invested in the squad and the appointment he made for the manager's position in hiring bright young talent Gary Monk.

However, after a quarter of the season Middlesbrough find themselves a little below where themselves and others would expect them to be. Monk's team find themselves 11th in the table after 12 games with a tally of 17 points. 

Boro's recent form has been especially poor, with no wins in their last four games and despite drawing three of these matches, Middlesbrough had to come from behind in each of them to come away with a point. Striker Britt Assombalonga certainly needs more support from his fellow big money forwards, as his the only player in the squad with more than two goals to their name. 

Warnock exceeding expectations

In contrast you would have to say that Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock is exceeding expectations with the job he is doing in South Wales. Ever since Warnock got the job just over a year ago he has kept the Bluebirds on an upward trend and this season's form has expanded on from last season's results.

Even on good wave of momentum, not many people expected them to be second in the league with a tally of 24 points through a quarter of the season. Now 68 year-old manager Warnock is no stranger to promotion pushes and he'll feel like his got at least one more left in him.

Although, Cardiff find themselves still second in the league table, their form has slowed down somewhat with just two wins in their last seven league games after winning the first five matches in a row. Cardiff's position has mainly been based around not letting goals in with free transferred goalkeeper from Walsall, Neil Etheridge only conceding 10 in 12 games. 

Embed from Getty Images

Team news

Wingers Adama Traore and Marvin Johnson are likely to be back in contention for Middlesbrough after missing the draw at Barnsley last week for contrasting reasons. 

Traore was late for the team bus and Johnson had a minor injury.

Cardiff will hope to have Iceland international midfielder Aron Gunnarsson fit after he jarred his ankle in the 1-0 defeat at Birmingham City last Friday, he was in training on Thursday however.

Stats

Middlesbrough have won nine of their last 11 home league meetings with Cardiff, including the last three.

There has not been a draw in the league between these sides in 22 games dating back to April 1971. 

Cardiff have won four of their last seven away league games, as many as they'd managed in their previous 17 Championship road trips prior.