Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough will travel to Premier League champions Manchester City on Saturday afternoon looking to replicate the sort of performance that saw them take Liverpool to a penalty shoot-out in the Capital One Cup earlier this season.
Promotion-chasing Boro, who have won six of their last nine matches and have lost just once since October, will prove a stern test for a team still reeling from defeat to Arsenal on Sunday.
City will once again be without star midfielder Yaya Toure, who is playing for the Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations, but boss Manuel Pellegrini has insisted his side can win without the 31-year-old. The Citizens, who stuttered to defeat at the weekend, have not kept a clean sheet in six attempts.
On the other hand, Karanka has praised his defence for playing a pivotal role in their ascent to second place in the Championship. Kenwyne Jones’ goal for Cardiff at the Riverside during Middlesbrough’s 2-1 win on Tuesday night was the first they had allowed in six matches, ending a run of 581 minutes without conceding.
The hosts will be boosted by the return of hitman Sergio Aguero and should the Argentine striker play, he will be eager to get on the scoresheet for the first time since netting a brace at Sunderland in early December.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
Middlesbrough 0 Manchester City (Benjani) 1, FA Cup, January 2010
Manchester City 1 (Bellamy) Middlesbrough 0, Premier League, February 2009
Middlesbrough 2 (Alves, O’Neil) Manchester City 0, Premier League, October 2008
Middlesbrough have won just once in 13 trips to Manchester – a run that dates back to October 2004
Man City have been drawn at home 14 times in their last 19 FA Cup ties
City have reached the fifth round six times in the last nine years while Boro have made it there five times
Boro have not beaten higher level opposition in the FA Cup since January 1992 – when Man City were their victims
Karanka’s side have kept four clean sheets in their last seven away games
Man City to win: 1.3
Middlesbrough to win: 11.5
TV: Highlights on BBC1 at 10.25pm.
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