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Middlesbrough travel to Bournemouth on Saturday, knowing they need a win to realistically keep their Premier League survival hopes alive.

Boro currently sit six points behind 17th-placed Hull City, with a game in hand and better goal difference.

Sitting in 16th, Bournemouth themselves aren’t completely safe, but with five games left, the Cherries have seven points more than 18th-placed Swansea City and will surely have enough to get over the line.

Using our algorithm, we have predicted the line-ups for the game.

Make sure you use the tool to pick the team you’d select if you were Eddie Howe or Steve Agnew.


It’s pretty certain that Bournemouth will play a 4-2-3-1.

The Cherries have used the formation 19 times this season – their next most-used formation (4-4-1-1) has been used just four times.

In goal, there’s no real doubt that Artur Boruc will start in goal – deputy Adam Federici has played in just two Premier League games this season and is injured anyway.

The back four also pretty much picks itself.

Since Nathan Aké’s departure, there has been no real doubt that Adam Smith, Simon Francis, Steve Cook and Charlie Daniels are Howe’s preferred defensive line – the quartet have all started at least 29 league games this season.

But it is in midfield where Bournemouth will have a decision to make.

Dan Gosling is an injury doubt due to a knee problem, while Jack Wilshere is out for the season after suffering a fractured leg during last week’s defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.

Andrew Surman is also still in recovery from his own knee problem.

That leaves Lewis Cook, who came off the bench at White Hart Lane, to play alongside Harry Arter in the middle of the pitch.

With Callum Wilson injured, top scorer Joshua King is likely to play in the middle of the midfield three behind Benik Afobé, while Howe will have a decision to make on the wings.

The last match Marc Pugh didn’t start as left winger was back in January against Crystal Palace, so you would assume he gets that place.

But right-wing is up for grabs, with Junior Stanislas starting at Tottenham, and Ryan Fraser being in the starting lineup for four of the last six games (Jordon Ibe started the other one).

Based purely on appearances, and that Stanislas didn’t do too much at Spurs, you would expect Fraser to be back in the starting XI.

Bournemouth scored three against West Ham United at home with just one change from the team our algorithm predicts (Gosling instead of Cook) and they’ll hope they can replicate that against Boro.


Whereas Howe tend to have a fixed style, Agnew has tried a number of different formations since replacing Aitor Karanka in March, so what he’ll go with tomorrow is not 100 per cent certain.

He’s tried out 4-3-3/4-5-1 twice, against Manchester United and Arsenal, 3-5-2 once against Burnley, 4-2-3-1 once against Swansea and 4-4-2 once against Hull.

Away from home, he has always gone with four at the back, so you would assume that’s what he’ll do again.

Agnew is yet to pick up a win, but the draw at Swansea was one of his better results, and against another team towards the bottom of the table, it would be no surprise if he thought it best to go with that 4-2-3-1 formation again.

In goal, usual No.1 Víctor Valdés is out injured with a rib injury he picked up against Burnley.

Brad Guzan deputised against Arsenal last week, and it’s highly likely the American will do so again.

In the back four, Antonio Barragán and Ben Gibson have started every game for Agnew, so you would expect those two to be there.

Bernardo Espinoza started Agnew’s first two games, but Daniel Ayala has come in for him more recently to play alongside Gibson in the back line.

The major question mark is at left-back.

READ MORE: Can Middlesbrough Avoid Relegation?

Fábio is 50/50 to make the game after a knee injury he suffered in the game against Arsenal.

While James Husband could deputise after playing against Hull, it is more likely to be George Friend, who came off the bench to replace the Brazilian against the Gunners.

In midfield, Grant Leadbitter will be absent with a sore hamstring, so Adam Clayton – who has started every game under Agnew – and Marten de Roon – who has started all but one – will most likely be Boro’s men in the middle of the park, as they were when the captain missed the Swansea game.

With defence not being one of Bournemouth’s strong points, Adama Traoré could return to the team – like in the Swans game to play alongside Agnew regulars Stewart Downing and Gastón Ramírez.

And given that Boro want goals, surely Álvaro Negredo will start, even though Rudy Gestede has recovered from a knock.

The Spaniard has nine goals in all competitions this season, four more than his closest challenger Christian Stuani.


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