Premier League 2016/17 Preview – Middlesbrough

Britain Soccer Championship

Middlesbrough won promotion last season to end a seven year absence from the Premier League. Image: Daily Mail

Middlesbrough were heavy favourites to get promotion, but had to rely on goal difference to secure a top two spot. Aitor Karanka has rung the changes as he leads Boro back in to the top flight after a seven year absence, bringing in seven new players. The star signings are Victor Valdes and Alvaro Negredo, neither of whom have had a good experience of the Premier League so far in their careers. Negredo will be relied upon to provide the firepower to keep Boro up, and alongside side him will be either last season’s top scorer Cristhian Stuani or Jordan Rhodes, who will relish a chance in the Premier League after dominating the lower league scoring charts throughout his career. Middlesbrough’s attacking midfield could go either way. Victor Fischer, Marten de Roon and Bernando Espinosa are unknown quantities, whilst Gaston Ramirez has so far failed to live up to his potential. Boro had the best defence in the Championship last season, but their defence is untested at this level. The Teesiders will want to be clear of any relegation worries going in to the last month of the season, as they face a tough run-in including trips to Anfield and Stamford Bridge.

Key Man: Victor Valdes. The experienced stopper only made two appearances in his torrid spell at Manchester United before being loaned out to Standard Liege. He would expect first team football after his move to the Riverside, and he will likely see a lot of action. Despite Boro being the best defence in the Championship, they are untested at this level and this inexperience could be exploited.

One to Watch: Victor Fischer. The Dutch winger has joined Boro for a relatively low fee of £3.8m. The winger had been finding it hard to get game time at Ajax, and will be looking to prove that he can recover from a 14 month injury that he suffered in 2014. His power and energy can see him play on either wing, up front or behind the striker.

Last Season: 2nd (Championship)

Prediction: 14th  


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