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Leeds United v Middlesbrough: Assombalonga to be difference as Garry Monk returns to former club

15:05 EAT 17/11/2017
Garry Monk
The ex-Whites manager returns to Elland Road with Boro in search of a fourth straight win, whilst Christiansen’s men are on an alarming run of defeats

In mid-September, Middlesbrough were six points behind Leeds United, but a win on Sunday at Elland Road would see them lead the West Yorkshire club by the same distance.

Defensive efficiency has been key to Boro’s recent run as centre-backs Ben Gibson and Daniel Ayala have a long-held understanding, having defended very successfully at this level under Aitor Karanka.

Former Leeds manager Garry Monk has been able to keep that partnership going at his new club, and will be hoping for a similar defensive display when he returns to his old stomping ground for the first time since a rather unceremonious departure in May.

The Whites, meanwhile, have lost seven of their last nine league games and are lacking physicality in defensive areas, whilst also missing key performers from last season such as centre-back Kyle Bartley.

Their north-east visitors will hope to expose any frailties and are 7/5 (2.40) with bet365 for a fourth straight win, or 11/5 (3.20) to draw for the sixth time this season.

A Leeds win, which has occurred in three of the last four Elland Road meetings between these sides, is 2/1 (3.0).

Christiansen’s men have scored exactly one goal in each of their last four games and are 6/4 (2.50) to do so again, with Pierre-Michel Lasogga scoring in two of those games and is 15/8 (2.88) to hit the net again.

However, it will be tough for Lasogga and Co. to break down Boro, who have the Championship’s joint-best goals against record with just 13 shipped in 16; therefore, a sixth win to nil of the campaign looks good value at 11/4 (3.75), with goalkeeper Darren Randolph having made some good saves to preserve a 1-0 derby victory over Sunderland before the international break.

Middlesbrough’s young winger, Marcus Tavernier, netted in that match and is 6/1 (7.0) to bag again at Elland Road.

Our best bet, though, is Britt Assombalonga to score in a win for his side at 5/1 (6.0); those odds imply a probability of 16.7%, but the bet would have landed in 31.3% of matches and the Boro striker will be keen to add to his eight strikes in the Championship this season, whilst also making it three goals in his last four.

Britt Assombalonga to score and Middlesbrough to win at 5/1 (6.0) for a 1pt stake with bet365