Boro v Villa preview
By Steve Bramley. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Middlesbrough and Aston Villa will be fighting to guarantee their Premiership survival at The Riverside on Saturday.
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The Teessiders play host to Martin O'Neill's men sitting in 13th place in the Premiership table having virtually assured their top-flight status with last week's 4-1 home victory over Watford.
However, they are still only eight points clear of the relegation zone and boss Gareth Southgate knows his side need to press home their home advantage against Villa, particularly in light of their miserable away record this term.
Boro have won only once on their travels this season - against Charlton in January - and with daunting visits to Anfield and Old Trafford among the run-in they need to lay to rest any potential relegation jitters in the closing weeks of the campaign.
Villa are one place below Boro on goal difference - having played one game more - but are beginning to find form at the right time and are unbeaten in their last four.
They also have a good record against Boro having won six of their 11 away games on Teesside and O'Neill would be delighted if they could extend that sequence.
Luke Moore scored a hat-trick as Villa overran Middlesbrough 4-0 in the corresponding fixture last season, but the spoils were shared in a 1-1 draw at Villa Park in November.
Boro hope to have Jonathan Woodgate back from a hamstring problem and midfielder Julio Arca following a groin injury.
Midfielder Lee Cattermole has completed a two-match ban but Emanuel Pogatetz and James Morrison are still suspended.
Villa's Patrik Berger may miss the trip after complaining of tightness in both hamstrings after training on Friday.
Striker John Carew is still sidelined with a calf problem, while midfielder Gavin McCann is suspended.
But Gary Cahill has recovered from a sore side and left-back Wilfred Bouma has shaken off a leg injury.
Skysports.com prediction: 1-1
A point apiece at The Riverside.
Player to watch: Mark Viduka
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|Boro 11/10 Draw 9/4 Villa 2/1|
1-1 draw: 11/2
Viduka to open the scoring: 11/2
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|Goal Attempts|| || |
|Ave Goals per game||1.12||1.00|
|Shots (excl blocked shots)||294||314|
|% Shots on Target||41%||42%|
|% Goals to Shots||12%||11%|
|Passing|| || |
|Overall Pass Completion %||70%||70%|
|Crossing|| || |
|Cross Completion %||21%||25%|
|Defending|| || |
|Ave goals conceded per game||1.22||1.15|
|Tackles Won %||77%||77%|
|Blocks, Clearances & Interceptions||1342||1366|
|Discipline|| || |