Curbs ready for the Riverside

Alan Curbishley fully expects West Ham United to continue their majestic away form when they arrive at the Riverside Stadium this afternoon.

The club have taken 13 of their 22 points on the road this season. "You want to win more points at home than you do away but at this moment in time I have got to take the points where they come," the manager said, mindful the club lost to Everton twice in the space of four days at the Boleyn Ground last week.

However, Curbishley is not unduly worried - especially as the three home reverses have come to league leaders Arsenal, who "had everybody playing", the season's surprise package Manchester City and in-form Everton.

"I think at home you are set a different set of problems to try and deal with and for us in them three games just mentioned - they have gone in the lead - which gives you another situation to deal with. In a lot of games away from home, we have gone in the lead."

Most recently, the Hammers soaked up the pressure at Ewood Park a fortnight ago before defeating Blackburn Rovers 1-0. There have also been other notable awaydays such as a 5-0 win at Derby County and a memorable 0-0 draw at Portsmouth. "We have took more points away. I hope it continues at the weekend that we get a result," he added.

When asked why the club were doing better away from home, Curbishley admitted consistency of selection was key. "I would like a few more points - the players that have been playing have done fantastically well. I can't ask for much more in terms of effort, the commitment of the players but in the home games you are asked one or two more questions. Perhaps that's what we have to think about."

He is also thinking about the training set-up, with the players doing some of their preparation away from Chadwell Heath at Little Heath where it is thought the softer ground may have a part to play in protecting his squad from injuries. "We are looking at every angle," he said. "It may just be that we are unlucky."

More pressing for the manager is Middlesbrough, who are on a "decent run". He added: "They have drawn at Reading, beat Arsenal and beat Derby. A month ago, it was probably doom and gloom and they had injuries. I think a lot of their forwards were out and that's why the Premier League is so tough. It is going to be a difficult game for us."

He also offered praise for his opposite number Gareth Southgate. "He has acquitted himself very well," Curbishley said. "He got on with it. They have allowed him to get on with it and backed him and I always thought his second season would perhaps be a little bit tougher than perhaps the first one."

The difficulty for Southgate was switching from player to manager. "That first season you have perhaps still got that rapport and closeness with the players and the second season is always a little bit more difficult. That squad changes, you have to make decisions. You have to perhaps upset one or two of the players that you played with."

Curbishley expects Middlesbrough to have "a settled side" - spearheaded by the in-form Tuncay Sanli. The Turkish international was a lively presence in the first meeting of the two teams at the Boleyn Ground when the Hammers won 3-0 earlier this campaign - although was guilty of a few missed chances.

The manager added with a smile that while the coaching staff at the Riverside were enjoying a settled situation, Southgate "ain't got a clue what we are going to turn up with". The young manager may not be able to predict the visiting lineup this afternoon but he will know that, away from home, West Ham United have every chance of success.