Leeds United v Middlesbrough: The opposition in focus

Leeds United v Middlesbrough.
Leeds United v Middlesbrough.
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We take a closer look at Middlesbrough as they prepare to take on Leeds United in Friday nights Championship clash at Elland Road.

Three to watch:

Britt Assombalonga: Since Middlesbrough broke their transfer record to acquire the services of Assombalonga he has scored 17 goals in 52 appearances for the Teessiders. In a move worth £15 million he joined the club on a four year deal signing from fellow Championship promotion hopefuls Nottingham Forest. In his first season at Boro he notched up 15 goals and was top scorer. He begins his second campaign at Middlesbrough hoping to reach the 20 mark. Whilst at Forest he scored 30 Championship goals in 47 games. Twenty-five-year-old Assombalonga is a talented player with power, pace and precison. His goal scoring prowess will leave Marcelo Bielsa conjuring up ways to keep him quiet. Pontus Jansson v Britt Assombalonga will be a great battle to watch and a much anticipated one.

Aden Flint: Flint was Middlesbrough's second summer signing joining from Bristol City. Flint is regarded as one of the best central defenders in the league and Boro did well to fight off interest from elsewhere, including Leeds United. Flint is always a danger from attacking set pieces and throughout his time at Bristol City he scored 38 goals for the Robins. Flint is also effective defending set pieces and is usually the one to clear and intercept crosses in the penalty area. Flint was a pivotal player in Bristol City's historic Carabao Cup run last season where they reached the semi-finals beating Manchester United in the previous round. Flint has started all of Middlesbrough's league games this season and is a crucial part to their promotion bid.

George Friend: The 30 year old defender has been a integral part in Middlesbrough's team for a number of years and is a fans' favourite among the Teessiders. Friend occupies the left-back position and has made 246 appearances for Boro and has scored eight goals for the club. His main attributes are his tough tackling and football brain. An interesting statistic is that Friend has appeared against Leeds 13 times in his career more than any other club.

The manager:

Tony Pulis was appointed Middlesbrough manager last Christmas and has taken charge of 32 matches in this time. Pulis' style of play is a traditional British style of football. Long ball, high levels of physicality and extremely strong from set pieces. Pulis has been around the English game for a considerable amount of time and has managed nine clubs including two stints at Stoke City.

Last Meeting:

The most recent meeting between the two sides was at the Riverside and ended in a resounding 3-0 victory for Tony Pulis' side. Patrick Bamford bagged a hat-trick that day. He opened the scoring on the 31st minute before quickly doubling his tally on the 36th minute. He then completed his first career hat-trick on the 68th minute to secure all three points for Middlesbrough.

Middlesbrough arrivals:

Muhamed Besic (Everton), Aden Flint (Bristol City), Jordan Hugill (Preston), Andy Lonergan ( Free Transfer), Paddy McNair (Sunderland).

Middlesbrough departures:

Antonio Barragan (Real Betis), Martin Cranie (Free), George Miller (Bradford City), Fabio Da Silva (Nantes), Adama Traore (Wolves).