Three Key Battles that will decide Middlesbrough v West Ham

After some early promise, Middlesbrough must be starting to look over their shoulders to a certain degree. And after plenty of early looking over their shoulders, West Ham have settled comfortably enough into a mid-table life raft.

The progress promised by a new stadium, splashed cash and a silver-tongued board of directors has stalled, and the optimism has turned into something very close to all-out embarrassment amongst West Ham’s fans.

On top of everything, the one player who seemed to embody the progress, and who seemed able to help the club achieve next-level status, has effectively gone on strike.

Maybe, under the circumstances, taking this season as a write-off and settling for a quiet mid-table finish wouldn’t be such a bad idea before regrouping in the summer and learning from some heinous mistakes: Michail Antonio at full back, doing transfer business in public, the ‘Insider’ column, and Simone Zaza.

Middlesbrough, meanwhile, would also surely settle for mid-table, though with players like Alvaro Negredo and Victor Valdes in the side, relegation would be a massive disappointment. A victory is needed soon, then, before they drop any further than 16th.

Here’s where the game will be won and lost.