Opposition View - Middlesbrough
Having secured five points from six games, how would you summarise Middlesbrough’s return to the top flight?
“It’s been a tough introduction really. At the time the draw with Stoke City felt like a good result but considering how they’ve started they might’ve wanted more from that game. The win away at Sunderland has been the obvious highlight. Since then, they’ve lost three in a row, and while there’s no shame in losing to Everton or Tottenham, it’s a little concerning.”
Boro made a number of signings over the summer, who so far has caught your eye?
“Alvaro Negredo has worked very hard as the lone frontman but he hasn’t had much change from Premier League defences yet. Victor Valdes was somewhat of a marquee signing given his record, however some fans have questioned his performances. Saying that, he has made a number of crucial saves already.”
Aitor Karanka’s men have fared better on the road, why do you think that is?
“Boro’s fortunes certainly seems to depend on whether they score first or not. When they do, they tend not to lose – the same was true last season. Unfortunately, the opposite is true so if they concede first, they rarely comeback. The first goal today will be absolutely crucial.”
How do you expect Boro to approach Saturday's game?
“Given West Ham’s current form I think they’ll will be confident of scoring but at the same time they’ll be wary of West Ham’s attacking prowess. I’d expect a few changes to the line-up after three defeats, so it’ll be interesting to see who he changes, and who comes in. Generally, Karanka is very safety first so I doubt he’ll go gung-ho, despite West Ham fragilities.”
Do you see this as a good time to play West Ham?
“In a way yes, given their run of results but at some point, sooner or later, they’re going to turn it round so the game is on a bit of a knife edge. What will help Middlesbrough is that they will go into the game without any fear, and if they do get the first goal it’ll be very interesting.”
A tough one to call, but how do you see Saturday's game going?
“I’m expecting goals, that’s for sure – the last thing I’m expecting is a 0-0. I think it’ll be a draw, 2-2.”