Middlesbrough vs Sheffield United
Date: 12th August 2017
Kickoff: 17:30 UK/ 18:30 CET
Venue: The Riverside Stadium
It is only early days in the Championship season. But both sides will be eager to come away with three points from this game. After losing on the opening weekend to Wolves, Championship favourites Middlesbrough will be looking to pick up their first three points of the season in order to start their promotion push.
Sheffield United, on the other hand, won during the opening weekend. The newly promoted side beat Brentford 1-0 and will be hoping to continue this form going into a huge game at the Riverside.
Middlesbrough started the season as favourites to win the Championship. However, after an opening day defeat to Wolves, a lot of pressure is on Boro to bounce back on Saturday.
Despite losing against Wolves there were some promising signs for Boro. Record signing Britt Assombalonga looked very sharp. He had two good chances and on another day could have scored both. A positive sign for Middlesbrough if he keeps getting into positions like that he will surely score plenty this season.
Also, the manner in which Wolves scored their goal was, hopefully at least, somewhat of a freak occurrence for Daniel Ayala. He will hopefully have his head screwed on properly for Boro’s next game and show what a top class defender he is.
So, while the Wolves game on another day could have easily gone Middlesbrough’s way, one big problem did arise from it.
That problem was Middlesbrough clearly missed the presence of a number 10. A position they are very much lacking in after selling Gaston Ramirez. There has been some talk of Adama Traore taking that position next game. But it is unlikely as he wasn’t even in the squad against Wolves indicating Monk isn’t exactly a fan.
Regardless, Boro are in serious need of a better showing this Saturday. They are at home for the first time this season. Also, with all the respect in the world to Sheffield United, Wolves do have a stronger squad. So, even if Boro do start with the three defensive mids as they did against Wolves, the home advantage and the skill of Braithwaite, Assombalonga and Bamford should be enough to see off United.
Injury news: Middlesbrough have no known injuries heading into the Sheffield United game.
Sheffield United are one of three newly promoted clubs in the Championship this season. They absolutely smashed League One earning 100 points last season. They were also the league’s top scorers by some way scoring 92 goals.
With respect to Sheffield United, they look to be attempting to continue to be a heavily attack minded team this season. They have continued with their 3-5-2 formation which saw them be the most attacking side last season in League One.
The Blades have also added several key players to their squad. Including Chelsea goal keeper Jamal Blackman on a season long loan. Blackman had an excellent debut for United pulling off several key saves against Brentford.
While Sheffield United do not have the biggest or most expensive squad, there is no doubt they will put up a fight against Boro. One man who will be especially dangerous is Billy Sharp. Sharp was deadly in League One last season scoring a huge 30 goals. He has also continued his form into this season scoring the winner against Brentford.
However, United did face a midweek cup game against Walsall. So, they may not be 100% vs Middlesbrough.
Injury news: No injuries going into the clash with Boro.
Middlesbrough XI: Randolph, Christie, Gibson, Ayala, Friend, Clayton, Forshaw, Howson, Bamford, Braithwaite, Assombalonga.
Sheffield United XI: Blackman, Stearman, Basham, O’Connell, Freeman, Coutts, Carruthers, Fleck, Stevens, Clarke, Sharp.
Head to head
The two sides have met a total of 103 times. Middlesbrough have won 39 of those games while Sheffield United have won 42. The remaining 22 ended in draws.
Last time the two sides met was in April 2011. The score that day was 2-1 Middlesbrough. Marvin Emnes and Mathew Bates were Boro’s goal scorers that day. Matt Lowton scored United’s only goal of the game.
Sheffield United have not won at the Riverside for 20 years, a stat they will be hoping to change this Saturday.
This will not be an easy game for Middlesbrough. But they should pick up the win. Firstly because they are at home. Then because overall Middlesbrough have a better squad and were unlucky to lose to Wolves. If Ayala had not made that mistake and Assombalonga and Braithwaite had finished their chances, the game could have been very different.
Also, as mentioned earlier Sheffield United had to play in the cup on Wednesday. This means they will not be as fit as Middlesbrough.
Therefore, due to a combination of all the things mentioned above Middlesbrough should be coming out of this game with a win.
Final score prediction: 2-0 Middlesbrough
Sheffield United: W
Sheffield United: 10/3
- 4-3-3 Predicted Middlesbrough Line-up To Face Burton Albion: Harrison To Start For Boro? - April 1, 2018
- Predicted 4-3-3 Middlesbrough Line-up Vs Wolves: Fry To Feature In The Starting Lineup - March 29, 2018
- Fantasy Premier League Game Week 32: 3 Players You Should Sign Including Burnley Ace - March 29, 2018
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