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Man Utd v Middlesbrough: Preview

United play their second game of the Christmas programme after returning as ‘Champions of the World’ from Japan. Thankfully, our clear dominance was rewarded against the joke of a team that was Stoke City — cue, ‘brave Stoke’s hearts broken’, and more such tripe from the rags. It was just the sort of win we needed after returning from a gruelling schedule. And I would gladly take these kinds of wins right through this Christmas/New Year period. It’s like one of those bitter pills — you know it’s hard to swallow but you do so anyway because it’s going to be for the greater good. So I’ll be prepared to sit through periods of push, prod, huff and puff that my beloved team is offering for now with the hope that we’ll inch closer to Liverpool and, hopefully, ahead of Chelsea.

My premier league table tells me that we are currently 10 points off Liverpool having played 17 to their 20. Winning our games in hand would put us one point off the pace and two points ahead of Chelsea. That can only be good at this stage, and considering the underwhelming nature of most teams in the league this season, we still have a good chance if we can scrap through this difficult period.

So, in scrap we trust.

On to team news, Rio Ferdinand will continue to sit out due to his back injury. This should continue to be seen as a blessing for young Jonny Evans, who hasn’t done too badly whenever he’s been called up. Evra continues to serve his four match suspension, which would see John O’Shea get more game time. Speaking of left backs, it would be interesting to see how Fergie views this as an opportunity to blood Fabio at some point; I hear he’s making a comeback after recovering from his shoulder surgery.

Berbatov, who started on the bench against Stoke should start today, alongside — presumably — Rooney as Fergie looks to rotate (or play randomized musical chairs, going by how he’s picked his players this season)

Boro have had a history this season already when Pogatetz booted Possebon in a Carling Cup game. But this is a side that I don’t have much time for and considering our impressive home record over the past five games (we’ve won all five) I’d say we should comfortably win this one.

Prediction: 2-0 to United.

PS: For those wondering, I haven’t forgotten, and I will publish submitted entries for the writing competition. Those of you who haven’t submitted as yet, feel free to do so as the competition will continue to be open for the next few weeks. And for those who haven’t heard of it yet, feel free to read the rules of the competition here.