Ian Holloway predicts Middlesbrough v Derby County

Middlesbrough host Derby County on Saturday afternoon.

Former Blackpool manager Ian Holloway has backed Middlesbrough to edge out Derby County 1-0 in the upcoming top of the table clash at the Riverside Stadium, according to Sky Sports.

Boro head into the clash having not conceded a goal in seven consecutive matches, winning six of them.

Their superb defensive record has been the catalyst for their promotion charge this season and, with 49 points from 23 games, they look in great shape to finish in the top two in the Championship.

Derby, currently occupying second spot, have also been in brilliant form - losing just one of their last 19 league matches - and head to the Riverside looking to extend their eight-game unbeaten run.

It has all the hallmarks of a classic, first versus second, and Holloway feels Middlesbrough will just have enough on the day and consolidate their place at the top of the Championship table.

"Wow. This is the game of the season. Fair to play to Boro, they made Sheffield Wednesday and my prediction look very ordinary the other day. They were position perfect throughout the game," he said.

"Derby have a huge test on their hands to break this unit down - and I can't see them doing it with the way they play. Middlesbrough want you to play through midfield.

"If Derby play their normal passing game, Aitor Karanka's men will stop them. Home win."

Derby boast the joint-best away record in the division, winning six and drawing five of their 12 games on the road and their 2-0 victory at Hull City will give them confidence of repeating the trick at Boro.

The Rams have the ability to mix it up and, unlike last season, have two players in Jacob Butterfield and Bradley Johnson who can find the net from range - giving them an added attacking threat.

Karanka’s men comfortably beat the East Midlands outfit on their last trip to the Riverside yet Paul Clement’s side are now a different prospect altogether and a low-scoring draw seems a likely result.

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