The '£35-40million footballer’' Middlesbrough will have to stop against Norwich City plus verdicts on Ben Gibson, Jordan Hugill and Patrick Roberts

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Middlesbrough face another tricky fixture against an in-form Norwich side this weekend – but what can Boro expect from the Canaries at the Riverside?

Daniel Farke’s team were relegated from the Premier League last season and are many people’s early promotion favourites after an encouraging transfer window.

We caught up with Norwich City pundit Chris Reeve from fan channel Talk Norwich City to get the inside track on Saturday’s opponents.

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How has Norwich’s start to the season gone?

Midfielder Emiliano Buendia is a key player for Norwich.Midfielder Emiliano Buendia is a key player for Norwich.
Midfielder Emiliano Buendia is a key player for Norwich.

CR: “It’s been a satisfying start for Norwich City, we’ve managed to have a pretty consistent run of form after a slightly worrying period at the start of the season.

“Daniel Farke has managed to motivate his troops once more for the climb back up to the Premier League and are now unbeaten in seven.

“We go into the Middlesbrough game full of confidence ready to hopefully bring the game to Middlesbrough.”

Former Boro captain Ben Gibson signed for Norwich in the summer – what have Canaries fans made of him?

CR: “Ben Gibson has been absolutely monumental for us.

“I think most Norwich fans were worried about the departure of Ben Godfrey and what that would mean, but I personally don’t miss Ben Godfrey one bit.

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“I think Ben Gibson is just an absolute man mountain of a defender, and not just on the pitch but with his off the pitch qualities with his leadership and his intelligence.

“Of course when you go down from the Premier League you do often fall into that trap of the Premier League hangover and I don’t think we’ve had that, and I think that’s a credit to Ben Gibson and Jordan Hugill to be fair.

“Particularly Ben Gibson has got the troops going and he seems to be able to keep the defence organised.

“At the moment we play with Jacob Sorensen as a temporary measure to cover for injuries and Ben Gibson has kept him really, really organised.

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“He’s just a player that demands respect and I think for Norwich it’s a massive signing.”

Norwich signed another former Boro player in Jordan Hugall recently– how has he fared at Carrow Road?

CR: “He has been second choice behind Teemu Pukki which personally has frustrated me somewhat. Daniel Farke has given him the time to bed him into the squad.

“At Norwich he’s also coming up against a very, very young hungry and backed by the manager player in Adam Idah who is an international for Ireland.

“To be up against Teemu Pukki, we tend to only play with one striker so Jordan Hugill has played a bit part role in the team at the moment but has already proved his worth.

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“He put himself up for a penalty kick against Rotherham and managed to secure the three points so I think with Jordan Hugill we’ve only seen the start of him.

“As the season goes on, if we can keep supplying him with those early crosses, he will do a lot of damage at Norwich.”

Which other Norwich players will Boro have to watch out for on Saturday?

CR: “If you don’t stop Emi Buendia from playing football you will get absolutely run over in midfield.

“He’s a player who I have no idea how we managed to keep hold of him and we are probably sitting on at least a £35-40million footballer there. He is very quick with his feet, flicks, tricks, turns, pace and has an absolutely deadly touch.

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“If the Middlesbrough midfield can’t stop him from playing football, it’s going to be just a complete onslaught of just attack after attack and it will be led by Emi Buendia every time.

“He is the key man Middlesbrough will have to stop.”

How will Norwich set up at the Riverside?

CR: “What we always tend to do is play with two wing-backs who are ready to bomb forward.

“It’s quite hard to predict the formation under Daniel Farke but what is going to be the key talking point is do you start with Teemu Pukki, who has played a lot of football and been away on international duty, or do you start Jordan Hugill.

“You are likely to see Marco Stiepermann in behind the striker or Emi Buendia who can both cause Championship teams a lot of damage.

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“Norwich would usually play with two wing-backs in Max Aarons on one side and Xavier Quintilla on the other but Xavier Quintilla is out injured at the moment.”

Patrick Roberts had a brief loan spell at Norwich last season – why didn’t it work out for him?

CR: “It was a really strange one because Patrick Roberts actually had a really good pre-season for Norwich.

“The Norwich fans were actually really optimistic and I would probably put it, the reason why Patrick Roberts didn’t play for Norwich was because Todd Cantwell had the absolute season of his life and it was literally impossible for Daniel Farke to drop Todd Cantwell.

“I think Patrick Roberts probably just got very unlucky at Norwich and unfortunately for him we didn’t help his development as a player, but that’s the cut-throat nature of football.

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“When we signed Patrick Roberts we thought ‘wow this is big!’ bringing in a player on loan who is exciting. Just unfortunately for him it didn’t work out.”

Finally, what is your score prediction for the game?

CR: “My head says this is going to be a 1-1 draw but my heart says Norwich are going to break the Middlesbrough defence and it’s going to be 3-1 to Norwich.”

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