Daniel Ayala

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Stream Live: Man City can strengthen Top 4 spot at Middlesbrough

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A week after Manchester City struggled to finish on net, the torrid Gabriel Jesus returns to the lineup as the Citizens travel to Middlesbrough at 9:05 a.m. ET live online at NBCSports.com.

Jesus scored three goals in five Premier League appearances after arriving in the winter, but broke a bone in his foot and faced a long spell on the sidelines. He is back from injury and starts alongside Sergio Aguero in the City attack. Raheem Sterling drops to the bench as Pep Guardiola produces a flat 4-4-2 to fit both attackers in the formation.

[ WATCH LIVE: Middlesbrough vs. Man City live online at NBCSports.com ]

City is also now forced to play with Willy Caballero in goal after Claudio Bravo was injured in the Manchester derby. On the bench to back up the goalkeeper is 21-year-old Manchester City youth product Angus Gunn.

For Middlesbrough, they were forced into a change as Fabio comes into the lineup in place of the injured Daniel Ayala who drops out with an ankle problem. Gaston Ramierz was reportedly available for selection after missing the win over Sunderland due to suspension, but he does not appear in the lineup or on the bench.

Boro has served as City’s boogey team in the past, without a win in their first 14 Premier League meetings, but they have turned that around, with wins in four of their last seven against Boro.

LINEUPS

Middlesbrough: Guzan, Fabio, Chambers, Gibson, Friend, Clayton, De Roon, Forshaw, Downing, Stuani, Negredo.
Subs: 
Dimi, Bernardo, Barragan, Fischer, Traore, Bamford, Gestede.

Man City: Caballero, Kompany, Kolarov, Otamendi, Clichy, Navas, Fernandinho, Garcia, De Bruyne, Jesus, Aguero.
Subs: 
Gunn, Sagna, Zabaleta, Fernando, Sterling, Nolito Sané.

Middlesbrough 0-0 Burnley: Not much brewing at Boro

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  • Burnley still winless on road
  • Boro takes step toward relegation
  • Clarets should’ve gone down a man

“Middlesbrough couldn’t finish its chances” could be the title of the Northeast club’s season anthology, as Boro played Burnley to a scoreless draw at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.

The draw leaves Burnley 12th, eight points clear of the drop zone. Boro is six points back of 17th place Hull City with a match in hand.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The opening moments didn’t have a ton of danger, though Robbie Brady banged a Burnley free kick off the proverbial woodwork.

Daniel Ayala had a chance for Boro off a set piece later in the half, but didn’t get the purchase required to find an opener.

Adama Traore opened up Burnley’s defense with some fancy dribbling later in the half, but his pass to Adam Clayton merely resulted in a shot directly into the hands of Tom Heaton.

Burnley was very fortunate to not be down a man when Patrick Bamford was chopped down en route to goal, but Martin Atkinson didn’t see it that way. It was a yellow card and a free kick, one that was cleared off the line.

Soon after, it looked like Ayala had scored but Atkinson ruled that an injured and face down Joey Barton‘s presence in the middle of the box didn’t warrant the goal.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Watch Live: Swansea vs. Middlesbrough (Lineups & Live Stream)

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It’s a good ol’ fashioned relegation battle as Swansea City hosts Middlesbrough at the Liberty Stadium live on NBCSN at 8:30 a.m. ET or live online at NBCSports.com.

After the initial pair of wins with new manager Paul Clement at the helm, Swansea has continued to struggle and is right back into the thick of the fight, level on points with Hull City but just out of the relegation zone on goal differential. The Swans have lost three of their last four, including a brutal one two weeks against Hull. They will be keen to avoid losing two in a row against relegation opposition, lest they see themselves drop into the zone. However, all their recent losses have come on the road, while at home they’ve won three straight.

[ WATCH LIVE: Swansea City vs. Middlesbrough live online at NBCSports.com ]

Swans are mostly fit with Kyle Naughton returning from a two-match absence with a hamstring problem and Martin Olsson back after a small ankle injury. However, Fernando Llorente picked up a last-minute calf injury, ruling him out of the match, with Jordan Ayew starting up front in his place. Leon Britton also misses out with a hamstring problem and Wayne Routledge is absent for “personal reasons.”

For Middlesbrough, they still have a few small problems to content with. There’s just one change from last week’s loss to Manchester United, but it will see them change formations as Grant Leadbitter comes to the bench in favor of Adama Traore. That changes things from the 4-3-3 they featured in last week’s loss to Manchester United to more of a 4-2-3-1 with just Alvaro Negredo by himself up top.

Boro is still without George Friend and Calum Chambers who are both returning to fitness, while Daniel Ayala returns from his hamstring injury to make the bench. They sit five points from safety, and a win today would go miles towards moving them out of the relegation zone, muddying the waters further. Should they lose, the teams at the bottom will have lost ground on their goal.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski; Naughton, Fernandez, Mawton, Olsson; Fer, Cork, Carroll; Narsingh, Ayew, Sigurdsson.
Bench: Nordfeldt, Kingsley, van der Hoorn, Montero, Ki, Borja, McBurne.

Middlesbrough: Valdes; Barragan, Bernardo, Gibson, Fabio; Clayton, de Roon; Traore, Ramirez, Downing; Negredo.
Bench: Guzan, Ayala, Forshaw, Guedioura, Leadbitter, Stuani, Gestede.

PL Sunday preview: Arsenal’s last stand; Swansea-Boro a relegation battle

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This is it for Arsenal: one last crack, with a clear path, at finishing in the Premier League’s top-four. As for Swansea City and Middlesbrough, fighting relegation is their reality…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Swansea City vs. Middlesbrough — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

With nearly 100 percent certainty, one of Swansea and Middlesbrough will finish in the bottom-three and be relegated at season’s end, if not both. Ahead of Sunday’s six-pointer at the Liberty Stadium, Paul Clement‘s Swans sit 17th, clear of 18th-place Hull City on goal differential. Boro, meanwhile, are 19th, five points back of Swansea after firing manager Aitor Karanka two weeks ago.

Boro are without a win in their last 11 PL games (four draws, seven losses). Coincidentally, their most recent victory came against Swansea, 3-0 on Dec. 17.

INJURIES: Swansea — OUT: Nathan Dyer (achilles), Angel Rangel (foot) | Boro — OUT: Calum Chambers (foot); QUESTIONABLE: George Friend (calf), Daniel Ayala (hamstring)

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Title race back on after Chelsea lose? ]

Arsenal vs. Manchester City — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

For as disastrous and dysfunctional as Arsenal’s 2016-17 season has been thus far, they’re far from out of contention for yet another top-four finish — but make no mistake: they won’t get there with a loss on Sunday. Heading into this weekend’s monumental clash with fourth-place Man City, Arsene Wenger‘s sixth-place Gunners sit seven points behind Pep Guardiola‘s side with a game in hand. A win at home on Sunday, coupled with three points from that game in hand, would see that gap shrink to a single point.

Arsenal lost their final two league games before the recent international break, a pair of 3-1 defeats to Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion, while City are unbeaten in their last seven league games (four wins in that span), though they enter Sunday’s clash at the Emirates Stadium riding two straight draws. Wenger’s future is as uncertain as it’s ever been, as he claims not even he knows what will happen this summer.

“I’ve always been very clear in my mind,” Wenger said. “I will remain like that. I think it’s a subject that at the moment is not sorted completely out. I have nothing more to add to that. … But anyway, do I stay two months or two years? My commitment will be exactly the same. The time I spent here does not influence my attitude at all.”

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Petr Cech (calf), Santi Cazorla (achilles), Kieran Gibbs (knock) | Man City — OUT: Gabriel Jesus (ankle), Vincent Kompany (knock), Ilkay Gundogan (knee surgery); RETURNING: Kevin De Bruyne (groin)

Premier League Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Hull City

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  • Teams have only met twice in PL before
  • Boro have 6 draws from 13 games
  • Hull have won just once in last 11 PL games

Middlesbrough host Hull City at the Riverside Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in what can already be described as a six-pointer in the Premier League between two newly-promoted teams.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Boro has won just once at home in the Premier League this season and sits on 12 points, while Hull has only won once on the road and Mike Phelan‘s side has just one victory in their last 11 games as the Tigers sit in the relegation zone on 11 points.

In team news Hull’s Sam Clucas and Ryan Mason are available but Abel Hernandez and Shaun Maloney are both struggling with injuries and striker Dieumerci Mbokani is suspended. As for Boro, Daniel Ayala could return but George Friend is still out.

What they’re saying

Aitor Karanka on Boro’s bad luck: “I think for example against Stoke we could have won and against Watford and Crystal Palace we didn’t deserve to lose. But the truth is we have 12 points and one day we will not deserve to win and we will win. When you have been working in the Championship for two and a half years and know how tough every single game is, having the opportunity to work against the best teams in the world is amazing, but we know we have to improve every single day.”

Hull boss Phelan on the story so far: “We can talk about spirit and determination but we can apply that by taking the games on and getting in front. That still requires the same sort of detail but you can see the players are grafting. They are learning and observing things. It’s possibly taken us this far to understand where we’re at and what league we’re in.”

Prediction

This will be a tight encounter and it may not be pretty. Both teams need the points to drag themselves away from an increasingly congested relegation battle. 1-o to ‘Boro.