Middlesbrough v Sheffield United Betting Preview : Can Boro get up and running?
Event Venue: Riverside Stadium, Kick off at 5:30PM . Live on Sky Sports 1.See Stats
Middlesbrough began the new season as one of the favourites with the bookies' to win promotion but they suffered defeat on their opening game of the season. Boro went down 1-0 away to Wolves but now face newly-promoted Sheffield United as they look to get off the mark. The Blades however did manage to win on the opening weekend, beating Brentford 1-0. Our preview looks ahead to the Saturday tea-time fixture between the two sides.
Take two for Boro
Despite being found as amongst the shortest priced of any Championship club to get promoted, Middlesbrough suffered defeat on the opening day at Wolves. A trip to the West-Midlands was always going to be tricky given Wolves' summer outlay and it was a fairly even encounter that the home side ultimately edged. After a host of transfer activity over the summer, it was always likely that Monk and his new team would need time to gel but expectations are high given the money they themselves have spent. They will be expected to beat newly promoted sides at home and that's exactly the challenge they are faced with this weekend.
Boro had an incredible home record during their last season in this division and Monk will be hoping that he too can emulate that. One thing he will need to change however is the chronic lack of goals scored they scored last season. Against Wolves they operated with a fluid frontline with Ashley Fletcher, Britt Assombalonga and Martin Braithwaite all starting but they couldn't find a way through at Molineaux. With that plethora of attacking talent, finding the net shouldn't be an issue for Boro but the trio will obviously need time in order to to get up to scratch with the way they each operate.
Monk took a small period of bedding in before he got his Leeds side firing all cylianders last season but the bookies' seem confident that his side can get off the mark with three points in this encounter.
Blades are back
Sheffield United spent a long six years in League One in which they were seemingly always amongst the favourites for promotion. Chris Wilder's arrival last season finally proved the catalyst for their return to the second-flight and it was a happy return to boot. The Blades beat Brentford 1-0 at Bramall Lane with Billy Sharp scoring the game's only goal shortly before half-time. It's only one game but nonetheless a real morale booster for the club on their return to this level.
Wilder has been quick to stress that the club need to strengthen if they are to be competitive this season, despite having already brought in seven new faces this summer. Blackburn defender Darragh Lenihan appears to be the club's top target with the Blades believed to be chasing the centre-back and have increased their previous offer of £1.25 million. Southend star Ryan Leonard also remains a target but for now the former Northampton boss will have to make do with what he's got. However with Billy Sharp in the side, the Blades will always be a threat. It never really worked out for him during his previous two spells at the club but as captain in his third, he is thriving. Sharp was the match winner in their opening game of the season, taking his tally to 52 goals from 98 league games and will be the man to watch in this one doubt.
Middlesbrough should get their campaign up and running with a victory here and look a good price at just under evens to do so. The Blades got a good victory to start their season with but a trip to the Riverside presents a significantly steeper test than Brentford at home. Boro however do not strike us as being overly fluent just yet so we could see this being a low scoring affair, so back the home side to win and under 2.5 goals for a healthy return.
- Middlesbrough lost just twice at home in their last season in the Championship, conceding only eight goals
- Boro have only won one league game since Christmas of last year
- The Blades are currently on a run of 18 league games without defeat. That's just four games short of the club record of 22 achieved way back in the 1899-1900 season.
- Boro won both meetings the last time these two sides played in the same division in the 2010/11 Championship season
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