Manchester United will be looking to extend their winning run to five games in the league when they play host to Middlesbrough on New Year’s eve.

Jose Mourinho’s men have been on quite a run off late and will be looking to close the year by winning their fifth match on the spin. Summer signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back among the goals and has gone back to becoming one of the Premier League’s most feared attackers.

Paul Pogba has improved considerably since his early struggles in the league and has now become pivotal to making United’s attack tick. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has also managed to silence his critics with breathtaking performances in recent weeks, and will be raring to keep up his good work against Middlesbrough.

A win for United won’t see them leapfrog fifth placed Spurs, but it will be an assurance to the fans as well as the manager that the club is on the right track and that they will continue to challenge for a top four berth, if not the Premier League crown.

SWANSEA, WALES - NOVEMBER 06: Paul Pogba of Manchester United celebrates scoring his sides first goal with Michael Carrick during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Manchester United at Liberty Stadium on November 6, 2016 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

SWANSEA, WALES – NOVEMBER 06: Paul Pogba of Manchester United celebrates scoring his sides first goal with Michael Carrick during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Manchester United at Liberty Stadium on November 6, 2016 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo Courtesy: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Standing in their way will be a Middlesbrough side that are performing beyond expectations on their return to England’s top flight. The Teessiders sit the in 15th place and have not been involved in a relgation scrap for half of the 2015/16 season campaign.

Manager Aitor Karanka invested wisely in the summer, and while his dividends are not churning into victories, he can be mightily pleased at the way his side has taken the fight to most of the division’s top clubs.

Probable Lineups

David de Gea is set to start in goal with a back four of Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind. Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera are set to play in a midfield pivot pulling the strings from deep.

Paul Pogba is likely to play off striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic with Henrikh Mkhtaryan and Jesse Lingard on either side. Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini are expected to come off the bench in the second period.

Your das vs Away team - Football tactics and formations

For the visitors, former Red Devils goalkeeper Victor Valdes is guaranteed to start behind a centre-back pairing of Calum Chambers and Ben Gibson. Adama Traore and Gaston Ramirez will resume duties as wingers.

Karanka is known to deploy a midfield trio and Marten de Roon, Adam Clayton and Adam Forshaw are expected to be given the nod. Alvaro Negredo is likely to lead the line for Boro as they hope to cause an upset in their final game of the year.

Stats

  • Manchester United are unbeaten in the last seven league meetings (W4, D3). Their last defeat was a 4-1 loss at the Riverside in October 2005.
  • However, United were knocked out of the League Cup at Old Trafford in the most recent encounter in October last season. Boro triumphed 3-1 on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
  • Middlesbrough’s last league win at Old Trafford came in February 2004.
  • Manchester United could win five league matches in the same month for the first time since December 2012.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been involved in 14 Premier League goals this season (12 goals, two assists) – eight more than any other Manchester United player.
  • Middlesbrough have lost three of their last four league matches.
  • Only Hull, with 14 goals, have scored fewer than Middlesbrough’s tally of 16 this season.

Watch out for

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Manchester United's Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Sunderland at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 26, 2016. / AFP / Oli SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Manchester United’s Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Sunderland at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 26, 2016. (Photo Courtesy: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

The Armenian was made the scapegoat for the team’s undoings by Jose Mourinho at the start of the season, but he has now become one of the most pivotal players for the former Chelsea boss. Mkhitaryan scored a wonderful goal on his return from injury on Boxing Day and was tireless since he came off the bench. He has added guile to the United attack and is expected to start from the off on Saturday.

Betting Odds

Favourable Bets

1. Over 3.5 cards @ 1.83
2. Over 10.5 Corners @ 2.00

Underdog Bets

1. Correct Scoreline 1-0 @ 5.50

Prediction

Manchester United 3-0 Middlesbrough

Jose Mourinho has all of his first-choice attacking options fit and raring to close the year on a high, so scoring goals should not bee too much of a problem for the Reds. After struggling to find the back of the net a couple of months ago, Ibrahimovic is back among the goals and is being supplemented in the attack by Pogba and Mkhitaryan. Jones and Rojo have started to impress as pair defensively and are expected to keep the Boro attackers at bay.

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