Middlesbrough vs Bournemouth: Match preview and predicted line-ups
Middeslborough host Bournemouth this Saturday looking to improve on their recent record at the Riverside. Aitor Karanka’s Boro are yet to win at home since their return to the Premier League, a record they will be keen to address. It is an old adage that newly promoted teams sink or swim on the basis of their home form. Scoring goals has been the main issue, with just three goals in four home games and Jordan Rhodes consigned to a place on the bench. Summer acquisition Adama Traore has been a real bright spot lately, and Teessiders will be hoping he can continue his fine form.
Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth however make the long trip to the north east in buoyant mood after a positive run of results. The Cherries rather limped over the line last term, and many pundits thought they would struggle to stay afloat with some fearing the effects of ‘second season syndrome’. Howe’s side conceded goals aplenty last season, particularly at the Vitality Stadium, but have been far more frugal in recent weeks. If they can maintain this level of defensive stability they could be in for a good season, because they have the attacking talent to cause most sides problems. The south coast outfit are well placed in 10th going into Saturday’s game.
The hosts picked up a fine point away at Arsenal last week, and perhaps would have had all three were it not for some excellent Petr Cech goalkeeping. That said, they are without a league win since August and have lost their last three at the Riverside to Watford, Spurs and Crystal Palace. Bournemouth are unbeaten in four league games since losing 4-0 at Manchester City. An impressive four points came from home games against Everton and Spurs, and they kept clean sheets in both. Sandwiched between those results was an away draw at Watford and their 6-1 thrashing of Hull.
Predicted Line ups
Middlesbrough starting XI Bournemouth starting XI
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Injuries and Suspensions
Grant Leadbitter is making good progress in his recovery from a hip injury, but this game might be too soon for him to return to the ‘Boro 18. Andy Surman is struggling with illness for the visitors, and is rated 50:50 to make the game, while Junior Stanislas, Marc Pugh and Brad Smith are definite absentees.
A draw should be the logical outcome when a team who are yet to win at home meet a team who are yet to win away, but football doesn’t always work like that. Middlesbrough turned in a fine performance at the Emirates last Saturday, but that was a very different type of game. They could almost approach that as a free hit, whereas there will be a big crowd at the Riverside expecting them to beat Bournemouth. That brings plenty of pressure with it, and if Howe’s side can get through the early stages without a goal they could frustrate them. Much of Bournemouth’s recent form has been based at the vitality, where they squeeze visiting sides high up on a very tight pitch. There are bigger spaces to cover at the Riverside, and the hosts are a threat on set pieces. Nevertheless, we fancy Bournemouth to get something and maintain their unbeaten run.
Featured image: All rights reserved Craig Ballantyne