Date: 15th September 2018 at 6:05am
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Norwich welcome high flying Middlesbrough to Carrow Road this weekend as Championship hostilities resume.

The visitors are joint top of the league along with Leeds and the pair played out a 0-0 draw in the final game before the international break. Tony Pulis is now the Boro manager and as you might expect the focus has been on keeping things tight at the back. He’s also signed Ryan Shotton, famous for his long throw.

The visitors have not conceded a goal in their last five games and are now set-piece specialists. The arrival of Aden Flint, a former Norwich target, from Bristol City in the summer has helped with that and the big man has already opened his goalscoring account.

It’s possibly too early to be calling them promotion favourites but from what I’ve seen so far, they look likely to finish at least in the top six and they will fancy finishing in the top two, I’m sure.

Daniel Farke announced a huge blow to City fans on Friday in his pre-match press conference as he told the assembled media that Captain Grant Hanley will be out for at least the next six weeks with a quadriceps (thigh) injury.

With Boro expected to provide a stern aerial test, this news couldn’t have come at a worse time. What it does do though, is to give another player an opportunity. I imagine that it will be a choice between Ben Godfrey and Christoph Zimmermann to partner Timm Klose in the centre of defence.

I’m guessing that Farke will employ his usual 4-1-4-1 formation but I really wish he would go 3-5-2. Playing two strikers is actually becoming fashionable again and an extra centre-back against Boro could be very useful. It seems likely that the visitors will go 3-5-2, so why not match them up?

In other injury news, Ivo Pinto is still out with a hamstring injury, meaning that Max Aarons seems likely to get another chance to impress at right back. Rather disappointingly though, Kenny McLean and Louis Thompson will be out for another two weeks.

There is some good news though, with Mario Vrancic fully fit and available again. He’s going to be short of match fitness but he was starting to look the real deal towards the end of last season, so his return is certainly welcome.

The Canaries are now in the position of being underdogs in this type of game, which is something that we’re just going to have to get used to, I’m afraid.

I still believe that we have some decent players in our squad and that given the right instruction, they could make something happen in the league this season.

For me, the jury is still out on Daniel Farke and although City have played well in parts of games, they have yet to convince me over a whole 90 minutes. This type of game, against a top team, is an opportunity to have a bit of a go. I don’t want us to sit back and play safe, I’d like us to have a go at them.

Middlesbrough have shown so far that they are a team that don’t grab a game by the scruff of the neck, more, they are a counter-attacking team who like to make the most of a set piece and keep it tight at the back.

Players like Hernandez, Aarons, Lewis and Pukki should be able to get at the Boro defence with Mo Leitner most likely to pull the strings in midfield. You can guarantee though, that Jonny Howson and Daniel Ayala will be desperate to do well against their former employer.

As I say, we will be underdogs but that shouldn’t bother us, we are at home and we all know how Pulis will set his side up.

Last season, City did the double over Middlesbrough, winning both games 1-0 with James Maddison scoring a scorcher at the Riverside and Super Tom Trybull scoring another long-range effort at Carrow Road.

Another result and another winning goal like either of those would do very nicely indeed.



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