Middlesbrough vs Bournemouth preview: Boro on the hunt for vital three points

Both sides will be looking for a win and some goals after goalless draws against the North London teams last time out

Middlesbrough vs Bournemouth preview: Boro on the hunt for vital three points
Middlesbrough  manager Aitor Karanka instructs his side at Arsenal | Photo: Ian Kington/Getty Images

The two youngest managers in the Premier League go head-to-head at the Riverside Stadium this weekend as Aitor Karanka's Middlesbrough play host to Bournemouth and Eddie Howe.

After a difficult run of form, Boro bounced back last weekend with a goalless draw away to Arsenal, in a game which the travelling Teessiders could have taken all three points.

The Cherries entertained the Gunners' North London neighbours Tottenham Hotspur and also played out a goalless draw, in marked contrast to their previous weekend's exploits which resulted in a 6-1 thrashing of Hull City.

Team news

Middlesbrough captain Grant Leadbitter, yet to play a minute this season after undergoing hernia surgery over the summer, is close to a return to first-team action but is not yet ready to play this weekend.

Meanwhile, on-loan defender Calum Chambers is free to return after being ineligible to face his parent club last weekend. However, the defensive performance of last season's first-team centre-back pairing Ben Gibson and Dani Ayala at the Emirates Stadium means Chambers may be pushed to right-back or start from the bench.

Middlesbrough captain Grant Leadbitter has not featured since the final day of last season | Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty
Grant Leadbitter has not featured for Middlesbrough since the final day of last season | Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty

Junior Stanislas hit two in the defeat of Hull a fortnight ago but he is doubtful to feature due to a calf problem, but Andrew Surman has recovered from illness.

Marc Pugh is unlikely to feature, while Lewis Cook and Brad Smith remain out of contention.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, home manager Karanka was eager to make sure that the pressure was taken off young winger Adama Traore, who caused a stir with a blistering performance in Boro's last game.

Manager talk

"He is only 20 years old, he needs to learn a lot," Karanka told the Gazette. "But he has massive potential. He needs to learn tactically, but he is ready to learn.

"Adama can bring us the pace we didn't have, but he needs to understand everything. When he does he will be an amazing player".

Karanka's opposite number Howe, meanwhile, is expecting another good performance after his side held title-chasing Spurs last time out.

"Last week's performance was excellent in many ways and we're looking for more of the same this week," he told the BBC.

"Last week's performance [against Tottenham] was excellent in many ways and we're looking for more of the same this week."

Head-to-head

These two sides have only met 15 times before and while Boro have the better overall record, Bournemouth are unbeaten in the last four.

Three consecutive draws in the Championship - including a 3-3 draw in which the Cherries' goals came from two penalties and an own goal - were rounded off with a comfortable 3-0 win for Bournemouth last time out when the two were fighting for Premier League promotion.

Boro's last win in this fixture game in a 2-1 victory in the League Cup, back in 1991.

League table and upcoming fixtures

Bournemouth go into the game tenth in the league table with 12 points, while Boro lag behind in 17th with just seven.

With games against ChelseaManchester City and Leicester City coming up for the hosts, this game is something of a must-win if they are to remain outside of the relegation zone.

The visitors will have chances to impress against struggling Sunderland and Stoke City in the coming weeks, and so may feel less pressure to get a result at the Riverside.

The game will be marked by the largest ever pre-match display from Middlesbrough supporters' group Red Faction, though the nature of the display is as yet unknown.