Middlesbrough vs Sheffield Utd by Hassy
These two sides were two divisions apart last season and although Sheffield United got off to a winning start, you sense this could be a bit of a wake-up call for the Blades as to the quality required to compete with the stronger sides in the league. Middlesbrough certainly fall into that category and they should be able to get their first points of the season here. As one of the relegated sides last season Boro also had the luxury of not playing midweek and thus getting the extra time the manager will need to focus his newly assembled side. The £15m signing of Assambolonga who scored 30 goals for Forest from just 47 Championship starts should go along way to getting the goals needed for an instant return to the Premier League.
Boro have sold midfielder Marten de Roon to Atalanta for £13m, a year after signing him from the Italian club. Uruguayan Gaston Ramirez is also set to depart to Italy with Udinese keen on his signature.
Sheffield United are still buzzing over a run that fired them to the League One title last term. Their midweek win over Walsall was their 9th consecutive victory in competitive matches so they won’t be lacking in belief but this game will be far tougher than all of those fixtures. The Sharp and Clarke partnership upfront for them is always dangerous but Boro's defence is stingy and I expect those two forwards to notice the difference in quality when up against the boro backline. Ched Evans is also pushing a start of scoring and playing well in midweek against Walsall. Sheffield United have also had a bid for Wolves' Conor Coady rejected as they look to improve the squad.
Boro are title favourites for a reason with many of the players that won promotion two years ago still around and some expensive new additions in the final third where they certainly needed to invest. These are the type of games they are expected to win comfortably and despite Sheffield United's amazing run games without a loss, at the odds on offer I have to back Boro as my nap of the English fixtures this weekend.
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