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Big Match Preview: Middlesbrough

This weekend's Sky Bet Championship clash between City and Middlesbrough is a "six-pointer" with a chance for Lee Johnson's team to pull away from their opponents.

City are fifth in the table, five points ahead of seventh-placed Boro, who they have not lost against in their last five meetings (four wins, one draw).

The match kicks off at Ashton Gate at 5.30pm.

FACTFILE

Formed: 1876
Nickname: Boro, Smoggies
Website: www.mfc.co.uk
Twitter: @Boro
Ground: Riverside Stadium
Capacity: 34,000

Honours:

Second Division: winners – 1926/27, 1928/29, 1973/74, 1994/95.
Northern League: winners – 1893/94, 1894/95, 1896/97.
League Cup; winners -2003/04.
FA Cup: runners up: 1996/97.

Last season:
Premier League: 19th
FA Cup: Quarter-final, lost to Manchester City.
EFL Cup: Second round, lost to Fulham
Top scorer: Alvaro Negredo, 10 goals.
Average attendance: 30,449.

HOW DID THEY GET HERE?

Now in their 141st year, Boro are back competing in England’s second tier after succumbing to relegation from the Premier League last season.

They were one of the original 20 clubs to compete in the Premier League, when it was rebranded from Division One in 1992. Middlesbrough were also one of the first teams to be relegated at the end of its inaugural season.

But the club may not have even existed by this point after falling into financial difficulty in 1986 and it was saved after being taken over by a consortium, led by eventual club chairman Steve Gibson.

The club has not fallen out of England’s top two divisions for 31 years and it has attracted big names from the football world over the years: Bryan Robson, Juninho, Paul Ince and Christian Ziege to name but a few, not forgetting former defender and current England manager Gareth Southgate who spent five years at the Riverside between 2001-2006.

Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk

MEET THE GAFFER - GARRY MONK

Garry Monk has been at the helm of three different clubs despite his infancy in club management.

The former defender retired from playing in 2014 after a final stint as player-manager with Swansea. He was appointed permanent boss of the South Wales club in May of that year and enjoyed a 2014/15 season which included double wins over Manchester United and Arsenal.

But poor form the following year saw his sacking come December.  The following June he was made head coach at Leeds United, where he replaced the outgoing Steve Evans.

Despite early exits in the EFL Cup and FA Cup, his squad looked odds-on for a Sky Bet Championship play-off spot before a dismal run of form struck. He ultimately missed out on the 2017 play-offs and resigned at the end of the season.

Monk, 38, took over at Middlesbrough six months ago, who currently sit seventh in the Championship table – five points behind fifth-placed City.

The Robins are unbeaten in their last five matches against Boro, a stat Monk will be keen to put an end to this evening.

Britt Assombalonga has 11 goals to his name this season

STAR MAN - BRITT ASSOMBALONGA

The former Nottingham Forest man is Boro’s in-form striker in what is his debut season for the club following a £15 million move to the Riverside in July.

He has an impressive career goalscoring record too, having netted 23 times during his one year at Peterborough United and another 30 in 69 appearances for Forest.

MEMORABLE MEETING

Bristol City 2-2 Middlesbrough

FA Cup fourth round, Saturday, January 27th 2007

Goals: Yakubu 4, Malcolm Christie 23, Richard Keogh 53, Scott Muarry 59.

City recovered from 2-0 down thanks to a wonder strike from Scott Murray.

The visitors took an early lead at Ashton Gate through Yakubu, before Malcolm Christie double their advantage midway through the first half.

But City were not going to roll over and Richard Keogh's looping header converted a Lee Johnson free kick before Murray's moment of magic earned Gary Johnson's side a replay. Another Johnson free kick was pushed away by Mark Schwarzer but the ball fell to Murray, who looped it over the Australian and into the net, in front of the Match of the Day cameras.

City and Boro played out another four-goal thriller at the Riverside in February but Boro would go on to win 5-4 in a penalty shootout.

City had beaten York, Gillingham and Coventry to earn their FA Cup place against the Premier League club.

AND FINALLY...

Officials
Referee: Stephen Martin
Andrew Fox and Daniel Robathan
Fourth Official: Simon Hooper

Betting (via SkyBet)
City 7/5
Draw 23/10
Boro 19/10