Kike celebrating the goal that sent Boro top of the Championship
Kike celebrating the goal that sent Boro top of the Championship

Middlesbrough’s 2-1 win at Blackpool on Tuesday night sent them to the top of the Championship table.

Boro were even able to rest some of their regular starters ahead of the visit to Arsenal for the FA Cup fifth round tie at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Grant Leadbitter, Ben Gibson, Patrick Bamford and Lee Tomlin are all likely to be restored to Aitor Karanka’s starting line-up for the match with the Gunners.

Boro won’t be daunted by visiting Arsenal after knocking out reigning Premier League champions Manchester City in the last round.

Veteran defender Jonathan Woodgate, who scored for Boro at Blackpool, summed up the positive mood at Middlesbrough.

“You can feel there is a real buzz around the town and the club right now,” he said.

“It’s great to feel that, especially with me being from Middlesbrough. It’s fantastic.

“And especially when you see the fans celebrating like that. The Boro away fans are tremendous and they are the best in the country by far.”

Boro will be backed by over 5000 fans at Arsenal.

Centre back Dani Ayala is likely to miss the match after he picked up a thigh strain in the win at Blackpool.

George Friend missed Tuesday’s match through illness but should be fit, while Emilio Nsue comes back into contention after his participation at the African Cup of Nations.

Tho Walcott is wary of the threat posed by Boro.

“It is a great opportunity (to win the FA Cup) when you consider the teams that have gone out,” Walcott told

“But Middlesbrough will be tough, they are doing well in the Championship and they might be very similar to Leicester.

“They will be a threat, we can’t take them for granted. We need to study their game very closely because if they watched our game here (on Tuesday) they will fancy playing us.

“We have to make sure we are completely on it because it will be nice for the fans to have a Wembley trip again.”