This will be the 64th competitive fixture between the Boro and Fulham
Boro will be coming off an impressive 2-0 win against Aston Villa and currently lay 7th in the Championship table. However, Fulham lost 2-1 to Burton Albion last Saturday and surprisingly in 14th place as they look to kick-start their season.
Did You Know? In 2006, Boro used 13 academy graduates in the 1-0 defeat at Craven Cottage. This is the youngest side to ever be fielded in the Premier League (Ave age 20) and the highest amount of homegrown players to feature in a match for a Premier League team.
Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes from the side who won against Villa in the Carabao cup on Tuesday.
I expect Monk to make 9-10 changes on Saturday, but I can see a surprise inclusion for Marcus Tavernier in the squad. The Boro youngster has been excellent in his first two games and it’s a thoroughly deserved opportunity for him. Although Tavernier will get his plaudits for getting into the squad, I must mention Lewis Wing. The former Shildon man was excellent against Villa. He was direct, creative and his ball for the penalty was exquisite.
I hope he gets more opportunities.
However, I’m delighted to see the Boro academy producing players and getting them integrated into the first team. With Downing, Gibson, Fry and now Tavernier in the squad, and Harry Chapman, Callum Cooke and Connor Ripley getting the first-team action in the Football league, it seems Boro have an excellent crop of youngsters to be proud of.
On Saturday, expect Monk to play with a similar team who beat QPR last weekend. Patrick Bamford is a name that is on everyone’s lips from his double midweek and he will be looking for a recall to the starting eleven. Furthermore, Adam Clayton returns to the team from his suspension and I’m sure he will start.
As for Fulham, they have had a full week to prepare for this game after last weekends loss to Burton Albion. Slaviša Jokanović, the man who was heavily linked with the Boro job in the summer will be looking to get the ball rolling after 2 wins in 8 games.
Slav will be happy to have Portuguese winger Rui Fonte return to the team although I can see him being on the bench.
Furthermore, Boro will be facing two former players tomorrow, Ryan Fredericks and Tomas Kalas. The defensive duo have been the heart of Fulham’s defence and they will look to prove a point to the Boro faithful on Saturday.
Slaviša Jokanović likes to set up his Fulham side in a 4-3-3 and attack using the wings. Fulham’s full-backs Ryan Sessegnon and former Boro boy Ryan Fredericks will push forward and overlap the centre midfielders regularly at home trying to create a 2v1 against the away team’s fullback.
(Who Scored, 2017)
To create space, expect Fulham to play short passes, the 1-2 will be used all afternoon to get around the Boro defence, as they look to stretch the Boro backline. If stretched, Fulham will look to bring the ball back towards the centre of the goal.
Fulham have pace all over the pitch and it was made them successful last season.
As for Boro, expect Monk to set Boro up for the counter-attack. We need to catch Fulham on the break and I expect Marvin Johnson to start on the right to try catch Sessegnon out.
The 4-2-3-1 will be an excellent formation to cause Fulham problems, we need to use our strengths in keeping possession and not allow Fulham to take the game to us.
Predicted XI – Randolph, Christie, Fry, Gibson, Fabio. Clayton, Leadbitter, Downing, Baker, Johnson. Britt Assombalonga
Score Prediction: I have a feeling this game will be an exciting one for the neutral but if we dig in when the pressures on and frustrate Fulham and steal the first goal we’ll get something.
Fulham 1-2 Boro