Southampton v Middlesbrough

Gaston Ramirez's winner on Monday was Middlesbrough's sixth headed goal of the season.



Gaston Ramirez’s winner on Monday was Middlesbrough’s sixth headed goal of the season.

TEAM NEWS

Southampton top scorer Charlie Austin is out after suffering a shoulder injury against Hapoel Beer Sheva.

Dusan Tadic returned from injury as a substitute in that match, while Jay Rodriguez and Sofiane Boufal have recovered from slight injuries.

Middlesbrough trio Gaston Ramirez, Alvaro Negredo and Jordan Rhodes are all injury doubts after missing training on Friday.

George Friend is continuing to build up his fitness after a knee problem.

MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES

John Roder: “Middlesbrough travel south in the hope of making it a thoroughly miserable week for Southampton following their defeat at Crystal Palace last weekend and exit from the Europa League after the draw with Hapoel Beer Sheva on Thursday.

“Southampton and Middlesbrough average just less than a goal per game in the Premier League this season.

“However, Boro are proving to be no pushover on their return to the top division, with just one defeat in their last six, while Saints have only one victory over the same period.

“The majority of Boro’s away matches have ended level, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this one finished in a low-scoring draw.”

Twitter: @johnrodercomm

WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY

Southampton manager Claude Puel: “It’s important to come back with conviction and get moving again in the Premier League.

“I have a lot of respect for Middlesbrough. They play good football, with good pressing and organisation.”

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka: “Southampton have improved every season, and it is a tough game for us. But as always, I prefer us to focus on ourselves.

“We have exactly the same goals (tally), for and against, as Southampton – we have to go there believing we can win.”

LAWRO’S PREDICTION

Southampton did not put up much resistance in their defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday, which was one of those performances that mid-table clubs throw in now and again.

I would expect Saints to improve on that showing here, but they will have to break down a Middlesbrough team who are very defensive minded and have had some good results on the road.

Prediction: 1-1

Lawro’s full predictions v singer Robbie Williams

  • Think you can do better than Lawro? Predict the score for this match and the rest of this round’s Premier League fixtures in our Predictor game
Charlie Austin has scored 46% of Southampton's league goals this season.<!–

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • This will be the first Premier League game between Southampton and Middlesbrough since March 2005, which Saints won 3-1 at the Riverside Stadium.
  • Saints won at home to Boro for the first time in eight matches when the sides last met, in the Championship in 2011 (D5, L2).

Southampton

  • Southampton have won just one of their last six league games (D2, L3).
  • However, Chelsea (twice) are the only team to have beaten Saints in their last 17 home matches in the Premier League (W11, D4).
  • Claude Puel’s side have scored just 13 goals in 14 league games this season – the same number as Middlesbrough; only Burnley (12) and Hull (11) have managed fewer.
  • Saints have scored just three goals from 20 shots on target in their last six Premier League matches.

Middlesbrough

  • Middlesbrough’s only defeat in their last six league games came at home to Chelsea (W2, D3).
  • Aitor Karanka’s side have lost just one of their seven away matches in the league this season, although five of those have been draws.
  • Only West Ham and Crystal Palace (eight) have scored more headed goals in the Premier League this season than Middlesbrough (six) prior to the weekend.
  • Middlesbrough have had a league-low 36 shots on target this season.

SAM (Sports Analytics Machine) is a super-computer created by @ProfIanMcHale at the University of Salford that is used to predict the outcome of football matches.

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