Middlesbrough v Stoke City

12 Aug

Stoke midfielder Joe Allen


Joe Allen joined Stoke from Liverpool for a reported £13m fee after impressing at Euro 2016

TEAM NEWS

Middlesbrough midfielder Grant Leadbitter is out following hernia surgery, while a dislocated shoulder rules out full-back James Husband.

Boro are otherwise at full strength, with Daniel Ayala and Bernardo Espinosa both fit after recovering from minor injuries.

Stoke defender Glen Johnson is doubtful with a thigh problem.

Joe Allen is set for his debut, while Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri have both been passed fit.

Stephen Ireland is out with a broken leg while Ibrahim Afellay is also a long-term absentee with a knee ligament injury.

MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES

John Roder: “It is a welcome return to the Premier League for Middlesbrough, seven years after they were relegated to the second tier of English football in May 2009.

“Their first opponents, Stoke, are surely a model for Boro to try to emulate. With some astute purchases, Mark Hughes has led the Potters to ninth place in each of the past three seasons.

“On a personal note, tragically a familiar face won’t be there in the media area.

“Alastair Brownlee, the BBC Tees commentator known as “the voice of the Boro”, passed away earlier this year. How Ali would have loved this weekend, as his beloved club return to the top flight.”

Twitter: @johnrodercomm

WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka: “It’s a big challenge for me, but I think it’s a good challenge for the football club too because after seven years the club is in the Premier League, it is on the Premier League map and for that reason everybody is going to watch Middlesbrough playing every Saturday.”

Stoke manager Mark Hughes on West Brom striker Saido Berahino: “He is an outstanding young talent but you need a lot of boxes ticked and all the ducks in a row before any deal happens. At the moment that is not where we are.

“Our intention is to carry on bringing good players to the club and we are in the mix for a number. But this year it was never about wholesale changes. It was more about adding good quality to the quality we already had.”

Middlesbrough defender George Friend<!–

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • Middlesbrough have won four of their last 15 league games against Stoke City (D3, L8).
  • The only previous Premier League encounters came in the 2008-09 season. Boro won 2-1 in August 2008 thanks to goals from Afonso Alves and Tuncay, while a Ryan Shawcross strike gave the Potters a 1-0 victory at the Britannia Stadium in March 2009.

Middlesbrough

  • Middlesbrough conceded 31 goals in last season’s Championship, including just eight at home – both figures were the lowest in the second tier.
  • Boro have won their first Premier League game just twice in 14 seasons.
  • However, they did win their opening match in their last Premier League campaign, beating Tottenham 2-1 in 2008.
  • Middlesbrough striker Alvaro Negredo scored eight goals in his first 17 Premier League appearances for Manchester City in 2013-14 but netted just once in his subsequent 15 games.

Stoke City

  • Stoke have conceded 36 Premier League goals in 2016 – more than any other side currently in the top flight.
  • The Potters are winless in their last six Premier League games on the opening weekend, losing four of those matches.
  • Their only previous win on the opening weekend of a Premier League season came against Burnley in 2009.
  • Mark Hughes has lost just one of his last eight Premier League meetings with Middlesbrough as manager, winning six of those games.
  • Stoke have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 10 Premier League away games.

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