Middlesbrough v West Ham United
Middlesbrough will this weekend have yet another attempt at securing their first points of the campaign as they face West Ham at The Riverside. With four defeats in a row at the start of the new season, Steve McClaren is already feeling the pressure at the helm of the north-east club, while Hammers boss Glenn Roeder will be glad that his Boro counterpart is doing an able job of deflecting attention away from his own side's inadequacies.
With just one goal to their name so far it is clear where the majority of Boro's problems lie. Their 38% shooting accuracy is four percentage points below the current average for the division, and with the likes of Paul Ince and Joseph-Desire Job smacking shots high and wide, it is little surprise that the club is being linked with various continental strikers including Celta Vigo's Benni McCarthy.
West Ham have had their fair share of striking problems, and as a result their shopping list is believed to include such luminaries as Manchester United's Dwight Yorke. The current batch of Hammers strikers have also managed just a single goal so far, and are arguably in a worse position than Boro in that their strike was from the penalty spot. At least their shooting accuracy is marginally better, although 39% is still a poor showing.
Perhaps surprisingly, Middlesbrough have been among the Premiership's best passing outfits so far. They have manage to find a team-mate with 80% of their attempts, with Ince in particular making sure to maintain a high quality of distribution, although if nothing else this proves that a consistent build-up is no use without a cutting edge up front.
West Ham have also recorded a respectable pass completion rate - their own 77% ratio is equal to the Premiership average, although Don Hutchison's introduction into the midfield has brought high hopes of an increased level of accuracy. The former Sunderland man maintained an excellent 84% distribution rate in his first game back with the Hammers, and will be looking to repeat the feat this weekend against Boro.
Thanks largely to the two red cards they have already collected this season, Middlesbrough have not begun with the most impressive disciplinary record. They have conceded 73 fouls in all, and while this is only the sixth-highest tally of offences in the Premiership, it is still a little more excessive than the management would like.
The odds on Steve McClaren being the first managerial casualty of the Premiership season have been rapidly shortening of late, despite chairman Steve Gibson's well-known patience. Defeat at home to West Ham would heap more misery on the former Manchester United number two, and www.WHUFCBet.co.uk are offering 7/1 for the Hammers to pile on the pressure with a 1-0 away win.
Match referee: Mike Riley
Mr Riley takes control of his third Premiership fixture of the season this weekend, with 10 bookings and one red card safely under his belt. The Leeds official has not been at The Riverside as the main man in black since May 2000, and will be hoping for a repeat of that match where just two yellow cards were necessary.
Referee's Name FoulsPenaltiesYellow CardsRed CardsAve Disc pointsM Riley93110166.00
click below for in-depth comparisonGreening v Carrick
Middlesbrough are again without Croatian striker Alen Boksic after he failed to shake off a calf problem. Brian Deane and Dean Windass are again expected to lead the attack but Szilard Nemeth is pushing for a start. West Ham could give a debut to new signing Tomas Repka but they have injury doubts over Paolo di Canio and Frederic Kanoute. Joe Cole is fit to play while Paul Kitson could start having scored a hat-trick for the reserves in midweek.
click on links below to place a wager
Match Result Middlesbrough5/4Draw11/5West Ham7/4Correct Score Middlesbrough 1-06/1Middlesbrough 2-010/1Middlesbrough 2-115/2Middlesbrough 3-018/1Middlesbrough 3-118/1Middlesbrough 3-225/1Middlesbrough 4-050/1Middlesbrough 4-140/1Middlesbrough 4-266/1Middlesbrough 5-0100/1Middlesbrough 5-1100/1Draw 0-08/1Draw 1-111/2Draw 2-214/1Draw 3-350/1West Ham 1-07/1West Ham 2-012/1West Ham 2-110/1West Ham 3-028/1West Ham 3-122/1West Ham 3-228/1West Ham 4-080/1West Ham 4-180/1West Ham 4-280/1West Ham 5-0100/1West Ham 5-1100/1Double Result Middlesbrough/Middlesbrough3/1Middlesbrough/Draw15/1Middlesbrough/West Ham33/1Draw/Middlesbrough4/1Draw/Draw7/2Draw/West Ham5/1West Ham/Middlesbrough28/1West Ham/Draw15/1West Ham/West Ham7/2First Goalscorer H Ricard11/2D Windass11/2S Nemeth6/1B Deane13/2J Desire-Job7/1A Johnston12/1Marinelli12/1J Greening14/1P Ince14/1M Wilson14/1P Okon20/1C Cooper25/1R Mustoe25/1D Gordon33/1G Southgate33/1U Ehiogu33/1S Vickers40/1C Fleming50/1Gavin50/1No Goalscorer8/1F Kanoute11/2P Di Canio6/1P Kitson7/1J Defoe7/1S Todorov7/1D Hutchison8/1T Sinclair14/1J Cole14/1Carrick20/1J Moncur20/1Mccann20/1Courtois25/1R Soma40/1C Dailly40/1S Schmemel40/1R Song40/1S Potts50/1N Winterburn50/1For all these bets + much more go now to www.WHUFCBet.co.uk
Download directions to the Riverside Stadium in Microsoft Word format: - Middlesbrough.docPLAN YOUR ROUTE WITH RAC ROUTE PLANNERBy Rail: RAILTRACK OFFERS AN EASY-TO-USE JOURNEY PLANNER