Saturday's big FA Cup tie preview

West Ham Utd v Middlesbrough Saturday, February 14, 3pm Upton Park MOST CHAIRMEN would have run out of patience with Gareth Southgate long ago. Phil Scolari and Tony Adams must be wishing that Steve Gibson had been in charge of their clubs, as they may st

West Ham Utd v Middlesbrough

Saturday, February 14, 3pm

Upton Park

MOST CHAIRMEN would have run out of patience with Gareth Southgate long ago.


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Phil Scolari and Tony Adams must be wishing that Steve Gibson had been in charge of their clubs, as they may still be in a job, but whether holding on to Southgate will be good in the long term for Boro remains to be seen.

They have gone 13 Premier League games without a win and currently sit second from bottom and it is only their FA Cup form that has brightened a miserable winter for the north east club.

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Having laboured over beating non-leaguers Barrow 2-1 at the Riverside, they then grabbed an excellent 2-1 victory against Championship leaders Wolves at Molineux, which earned them their trip to Upton Park on Saturday.

They have won just two other games on their travels this season - a 1-0 victory at Wigan Athletic and a surprising 2-1 triumph against Aston Villa, but West Ham will certainly go into the match with plenty of confidence.

Southgate was in the Middles-brough team that lost in the FA Cup semi-final back in 2006 when Marlon Harewood scored the only goal in a tight match, and he will be looking for some semblance of revenge this weekend.

Back in November, the sides shared two goals at the Riverside with Hayden Mullins' opener being matched by a late Mido strike, but the Egyptian striker is out on loan at Wigan and Boro now have to rely on Afonso Alves for goals.

He has seven to his name this season, three of them in the FA Cup, and he is likely to be partnered by Tuncay as new signing Marlon King is cup tied having played for Hull City earlier in the competition.

History also points towards a West Ham victory.

Their record against Boro at Upton Park is exceptional. The last time that they returned north with all three points was way back in 1990, when former Hammer Brian Deane grabbed the only goal from the spot.

This is perhaps West Ham's biggest match of the season. Sitting in eighth place they still have a chance of a spot in Europe, but their best hope of glory this season is in the FA Cup where they sit just two wins away from a place at Wembley for the semi-final.

If they are not too tired from their exploits against Arsenal and Manchester United, they should win comfortably.

Probable team: Jones, Hoyte, Wheater, Huth, Pogatetz, Johnson, Bates, Digard, Downing, Alves, Tuncay.

Prediction:

West Ham 3 Middlesbrough 1

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