TALKING TACTICS: What to expect from Middlesbrough at Turf Moor

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IN the first of a three-part look at Burnley’s next opponents - Middlesbrough - Phil Smith reveals what qualities the men from Teeside will bring to the table at Turf Moor.

Part One – Set pieces

Final whistle. London Road. August 24th, 2011. For the first time in their history, Middlesbrough have recorded six successive victories on their travels. Hull City, Cardiff City, Walsall, Leeds United, Barnsley and Peterborough United have all been conquered.

Come 3p.m. next Saturday they will be chomping at the bit to make it seven.

Indeed, Middlesbrough haven’t been beaten on their travels since April 19th. Time to panic? Not in the slightest – their opponents that day? Burnley Football Club!

Middlesbrough have scored 15 goals this season. Three have come from set plays.

Diagram A (top) reflects the typical lateral free kick combination they choose to adopt. They will be taken inswinging by Barry Robson. Three players will look to attack the delivery diagonally. Rhys Williams is positioned outside the box. A late run is to be expected.

Marvin Emnes can sniff the second ball. He will look to pounce at the near post if he is offered any scraps to feed off. Competent handling from Lee Grant or Brian Jensen will be absolutely crucial. The man from Rotterdam needs no invitation to burst the onion bag.

He already has seven goals to his name, including a Carling Cup hat-trick against Walsall.

Robson is entrusted with frontal free kicks. His drilled effort in the victory over Birmingham City, a fortnight ago, is a testament of his ability.

Corner kicks will be taken by Robson or Tony McMahon. Three players will look to attack the delivery diagonally. Emnes will disrupt Jensen.

Expect Scott McDonald to draw his marker away from the centre to create a gap for Williams. He will make a late run into the space generated.

How would I expect Middlesbrough to line up defensively from a set play? Given the personnel likely to be involved, it would be logical to suggest that from a frontal free kick we will be looking at a wall of four. Undoubtedly, one player will remain outside the box to prevent any combinations. Zonal marking will be used

In lateral free kicks, two men will be in the wall. Man marking will be used.

Middlesbrough have been unchanged just three times in the last 93 fixtures – uncertainty over strongest personnel? That may well be the case.

What we can absolutely guarantee, however, is that both posts will be covered during a corner. Zonal marking is evident.

Emnes and McDonald will remain outside the box.

Transitions will be through them.

Burnley will need to be astute to the threat of a counter attack. (Diagram B, left).

• Don’t miss Part Two in Tuesday’s Express!