Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka hopes experience will help against Burnley
Aitor Karanka is hoping familiarity will serve Middlesbrough well as they attempt to ruin Burnley's Christmas.
The Teessiders head for Turf Moor on Boxing Day to face a side which has revelled in the comforts of home since returning the the Premier League this season.
Since a disappointing opening day defeat by Swansea, only Arsenal and Manchester City have left Burnley with maximum points and Boro's head coach Karanka, whose side emerged from the Sky Bet Championship with Sean Dyche's men, is hoping recent experience will prepare them for what lies ahead.
He said: "I expect, like always on that pitch, a tough game, and especially this season when they have won 16 of their 17 points in the table at home. We know that they are a really strong team.
"We have experienced playing there because since I have been here, we have played there twice, so we know it's going to be a tough game.
"They are a direct opponent in the table at the moment, so we have to think it is a really important game for us.
"For me, it's good because I know them. But we have a few players who weren't here last season, for example and they need to watch them and they need to know how strong they are and how competitive they are.
"We have been training in this way this week and I will show them videos and we will compete as we do in every single game."
Burnley pipped Boro to last season's Championship title, but the 14th-placed Teessiders are currently two positions and one point ahead of them in the table.
However, both remain too close for comfort to the drop zone as they attempt to ensure their stay in the top flight lasts longer than one campaign with Karanka freely admitting survival is his only priority.
For that reason, he knows how important Burnley's home form could prove to be.
He said: "Every single team has to take advantage of their home games. You know their style until this moment is successful for them because last season they won the Championship, this season they are on 17 points.
"Their aim this season is the same as ours, so I think they are doing well and they know their good things."
Boro will be without winger Viktor Fischer, who has been sidelined for up to three weeks by a knee injury, but Karanka has no other fresh selection problems.