Middlesbrough v Manchester Utd
12.00 - 19/3/2017 - Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
Thursday morning brought the news that Middlesbrough had dismissed Aitor Karanka from his post, which comes after they’d secured just one win in their last seven across all competitions. They’re second from bottom, three points clear of Sunderland but three short of safety, and this weekend they face the unwelcome prospect of a visit from Man United. United were squeezed out of the FA Cup by Chelsea’s dogged efforts on Monday night and must improve if they wish to guarantee a top-six spot.
Man United may have stuttered with two draws and a loss recently, but they have been very good on the road in the league of late. They’ve won five of seven undefeated away games, winning to nil in the three most recent victories, and have the joint-best away defensive record in the league together with Chelsea. Their robust defence will have little to fear from a Middlesbrough side that’s failed to score in its last three outings, and has not scored against top-flight opposition since the end of January. United will be without Ander Herrera and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, though, so their own attacking potential will be limited too.
Man United should have too much class for Middlesbrough even without Zlatan, but he is comfortably their most prolific goalscorer, and we think they’ll struggle to create many chances without him. Four of their last six on the road have seen fewer than three goals, so we’ll back Man United to win and Under 2.5 goals.