Five Talking Points – Middlesbrough

Five Talking Points


Clean sheets, bottom-feeders, Alvaro Negredo and Michail Antonio are among the big topics for discussion ahead of Saturday's Premier League trip to the Riverside Stadium...

Clean sheets – Part One

Middlesbrough’s success over the past season-and-a-half has been based on their miserly defence, with Aitor Karanka’s side conceding just 53 goals in their last 67 league matches.

In that time, Boro have kept no fewer than 29 clean sheets, including three in their last five Premier League matches.

This season, only leaders Chelsea (12) and second-place Tottenham Hotspur (nine) have kept more clean sheets than Middlesbrough’s seven, while Liverpool and Chelsea are the only sides to have scored at the Riverside Stadium in Boro’s last six home matches.

It is organisation that has seen Boro compile the best defensive record outside the top six, too, with goalkeeper Victor Valdes making just 51 saves in 18 appearances – Brad Guzan made ten in total in Boro’s other three league games.

In short, West Ham United can expect to find it difficult to break their hosts down on Saturday.


Scott Parker


Clean sheets – Part Two

West Ham United have visited the Riverside Stadium eleven times in the Premier League since losing 4-2 in December 1995 – and never kept a clean sheet!

In eleven visits, West Ham have conceded 22 goals, scored only nine, lost on eight occasions and won just once – a 2-1 success courtesy of Scott Parker’s late winner in December 2007.



Unlike last season, when they feasted on the Premier League’s big guns, West Ham United have dined out on clubs in the bottom half this term.

The Hammers have won just six of their 25 points from teams who currently occupy places in the top-ten – from a home win over Burnley and draws with Stoke City, Manchester United and Liverpool.

The other 19 have been collected from six victories over clubs in the bottom half – AFC Bournemouth, Crystal Palace (twice), Sunderland, Hull City and Swansea – and a home draw with Saturday’s opponents Middlesbrough.

A seventh win at the Riverside and West Ham could well find themselves in the top half of the table come Sunday evening.


Alvaro Negredo


Negredo nightmare

It is three years this month since Alvaro Negredo almost single-handedly ended West Ham United’s hopes of reaching the League Cup – now EFL Cup – final.

The Spanish striker scored five times as Manchester City romped to a 9-0 aggregate semi-final victory, including a hat-trick at the Etihad Stadium and two more in front of just 14,390 fans at the Boleyn Ground.

The striker, who won UEFA Euro 2012 with Spain playing alongside West Ham full-back Alvaro Arbeloa, is Middlesbrough’s leading Premier League goalscorer with five this season, and will no doubt have his targets trained on the back of the Hammers net again this weekend.


Main m-Antonio

With no Dimitri Payet available for the trip to the Riverside, Middlesbrough need not worry about the man who danced around half of their team to score at London Stadium back in October.

Instead, however, Boro have to be concerned about West Ham United’s new creative spark – Michail Antonio.

After failing to register an assist in his opening 19 top-flight appearances, the 26-year-old chalked up three in the space of 18 minutes against Crystal Palace last Saturday – becoming the first West Ham player to do so in a Premier League match since Paolo Di Canio against Coventry City in 2000.

Playing off centre forward Andy Carroll, the No30 was a constant threat to the Eagles defence, and Boro will need to keep a close eye on the south Londoner if they are not to suffer the same fate this weekend.