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good series and try to main­tain top spot in the League,” added the in­spi­ra­tional Bel­gian mid­fielder.

“It is very dif­fi­cult. Ev­ery­body will give ev­ery­thing they have got against us. We have to do what we know how to do. The game against Mid­dles­brough is go­ing to be an­other tough test.”

While City are top of the ta­ble from Ar­se­nal and Liver­pool on goal dif­fer­ence, Ai­tor Karanka’s pro­moted side are 15th and would be happy to beat the odds and take a point.

Mid­dles­brough held Ar­se­nal to a goal­less draw at the Emi­rates in Oc­to­ber, with for­mer Barcelona goal­keeper Vic­tor Valdes in fine form to keep the clean sheet, and their de­fence is the sev­enth tight­est in the top flight.

If it is eight years since Sven Go­ran Eriks­son’s City lost 8-1 at the River­side, home fans will have fresher mem­o­ries of ‘Boro’s Jan­uary 2015 2-0 FA Cup fourth round win at the Eti­had while the vis­i­tors were still in the se­cond tier.

The game will mark a re­turn to old haunts for for­mer City for­ward Al­varo Ne­gredo, who joined Mid­dles­brough from Va­len­cia on loan in July, but the vis­i­tors are with­out sus­pended Uruguayan play­maker Gas­ton Ramirez.

If the City game will be to­mor­row’s high­light, Chelsea’s home clash with Ever­ton in the late kick­off should also be a siz­zler.

The North Lon­don derby be­tween Ar­se­nal and Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur is the pick of the Sun­day fix­tures, with both sides also in mid­week Cham­pi­ons League ac­tion, while high-scor­ing Liver­pool take on Wat­ford at An­field with a chance to go top if oth­ers stum­ble.

Manch­ester United travel to Swansea and cham­pi­ons Le­ices­ter City are at home to West Bromwich Albion.

The Chelsea game will be a re­turn to Stam­ford Bridge for Ever­ton striker Romelu Lukaku, who will jump at the chance to over­take Diego Costa at the top of the League’s goalscorer stand­ings.

Lukaku, who joined Ever­ton from Chelsea on a per­ma­nent deal in 2014 after a sea­son on loan, has seven league goals to Costa’s eight.

The Bel­gian in­ter­na­tional scored twice when the sides last met at Good­i­son in the FA Cup in March but fourth-placed Chelsea are rein­vig­o­rated un­der An­to­nio Conte and have won four of their last five games. – Reuters

Monaco for­ward Radamel Fal­cao (2nd right) scores a goal past CSKA Moscow goal­keeper Igor Ak­in­feev dur­ing yes­ter­day’s Cham­pi­ons League Group E match at the Louis II Sta­dium in Monaco. – AFPPIX

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