Saturday 11th March 2016 Kickoff: 1215hrs Middlesbrough v Manchester City Football – England – FA Cup Now we are getting to the latter stages of the FA Cup there is a mixture of cup and Premier League action over the course of the weekend. There have been longstanding arguments about whether playing league games on cup weekend dilutes the prestige of the FA Cup but that’s a debate for another day and for other more concerned people. One of the all Premier League ties of the quarter final stage sees struggling Middlesbrough host a Manchester City team who may see this as their best and most obvious chance of a trophy.
2017 has been abysmal thus far for Aitor Karanka and his Boro team as they slip ever closer to an immediate return to the Championship. Their last win in the league came way back on the 17th of December and since then it has been 10 straight without success. They have failed to score in seven of them which has further highlighted a major issue that has blighted them ever since Karanka has arrived at the club. Boro are the lowest scorers in the Premier League, scoring a measly 19 and despite being relatively good defensively, are in serious danger of going down. Currently third bottom with only four wins all season, they are now three points adrift of safety and unless they can find some form soon then you seriously fear for them. The only slight positives for them since the turn of the year is the fact they have been able to record two victories in this competition, beating Accrington Stanley and Oxford United. Unfortunately, they have not been anything like convincing in either of them and it goes without saying that this game will be a much different proposition.
City had been building up a bit of steam of late with four straight wins in the league and an impressive come from behind win over Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie. That good run came to somewhat of a halt on Wednesday as they were frustratingly held by Stoke at home, the game ending goalless. It all but puts paid to their hopes of catching Chelsea at the top of the table and leaves them to concentrate on securing a top four finish, progressing in the Champions League and attempting to win this. Their route to this stage has also not been straightforward having been taken to a replay by Championship outfit Huddersfield. They did of course go on to win 5-1 at the second time of asking, and that followed two comfortable successes away to fellow Premier League teams West Ham and Crystal Palace. With the second leg against Monaco to come next midweek it is a busy time for Pep Guardiola’s men but they do have a slight advantage with this game being played early afternoon Saturday before playing in France on Wednesday.
Middlesbrough v Manchester City Betting Tip
These two met in the league at the Etihad back in November when Middlesbrough were able to register a very credible draw and deservingly so as well. It was a period in the season when City were really struggling for form whilst Boro were arguably at their most impressive stage of the campaign. Much has changed since then and the fact it is in the cup may also see the teams take a slightly difference approach.
Both managers have elected to use their squads in the FA Cup – which is basically the done thing for Premier League clubs these days – so we cannot be entirely sure how either team will line up, which makes it slightly more difficult to advise a bet but what we do know for certain is that Manchester City’s squad has far more depth and quality to it in comparison to Middlesbrough. City have shown some real good form in the cup thus far and have actually found it easier scoring goals in the FA Cup than they have in the league. There is an argument to be made that playing in this could prove a welcome distraction for the home side but considering their current position I think it’s the complete opposite. Boro cannot afford to priorities the cup if they wish to stay in the Premier League, in my opinion, and if they are to exit it this weekend as I suspect they will, I do not anticipate it being too devastating for Karanka. City have won three of their four games in this competition by three or more goals and I think that’s another realistic outcome this weekend. The main selection is backing the visitors minus a goal but I would also not put anybody off being more adventurous and also having a go at -2 and -3 goals.
Manchester City -1 6/5 @ Stan James