Middlesbrough failed to break down a resolute Rotherham United side last night, drawing the game 0-0 at the Riverside Stadium.
Middlesbrough drew their third blank in their last four home games, but having drew the game, Tony Pulis’ side remain top of the table on goal difference. However, West Brom and Leeds could both go above Boro with wins on Wednesday evening.
Here are three things we learnt from Middlesbrough’s draw with Rotherham:
1. New system not suiting Braithwaite and Assombalonga?
Pulis’ switch to a 5-3-2 formation saw goals for both Martin Braithwaite and Britt Assombalonga earlier in the season, and the latter grabbed a goal whilst playing in a variation of this formation last week against Sheffield Wednesday.
However, the manager has chopped and changed with the system and on Tuesday reverted back to a 4-2-3-1 formation, and Braithwaite and Assombalonga both struggled to have the desired impact.
2. Boro need a more direct threat
It is easy to see Middlesbrough lack the firepower of Adama Traore, having sold the Spaniard to Wolves in the summer – They lack someone that can turn defence into attack and shift the ball up the pitch quickly.
Players like Mo Besic and Stewart Downing looked to take players on last night and create chances for teammates in and around the box, but apart from that, the Teessiders looked short of ideas going forwards.
Both Marcus Tavernier and Lewis Wing are capable of exactly this, and it is difficult to understand why either player was not even included on the bench on Tuesday.
3. Dael Fry unfortunate to miss out
Last week’s trip to Hillsborough proved dividend for Boro, as they ran out 2-1 winners away from home. A standout performer in the victory was defender Dael Fry, and he was unfortunate to not start the game against Rotherham.
Dani Ayala did have some shaky moments against the Millers and was caught out of position a few times, especially late in the second half.
Derby County on Saturday afternoon may be a tough test, but don’t be surprised if Fry starts the game in the back line.