Middlesbrough - Plymouth Argyle

Middlesbrough hold a place in the play-off zone (4th) and made two good performances in last two rounds. First, won against Derby at home (2-0) which was a first positive result at Riverside after three defeats without a single goal scored (WBA 0-5. Leicester 0-1 and Watford 0-1). Then Southgate got fired and new man in charge, Gordon Strachan, watched from vip seat an away draw vs. Preston (2-2). Considering their ratio performances/points, in my opinion Boro lack in points and possess unused potential that especially reflected in home games (ten points from 21). Strachan declared the striking force as the main problem and already sign on two months loan deal striker Marcus Bent from Birmingham (ex Charlton). Two forwards, Caleb Folan and Jeremie Aliadiere, are injured and Bent goes straight into Boro’s starting eleven. All others are fit and available to the new boss. Debuts of the new managers always have a positive impact to the team morale and Strachan surely couldn’t wish a better opponent for it (maybe we can even talk about god timing of chairman Steve Gibson).


In opening 14 rounds and noticed 9 (from possible 42) points, Pilgrims haven’t shown anything that could keep them in the Championship. After seven consecutive defeats, team won twice (Peterborough and Scunthorpe), then again bad run with just one point in three games (bottom side, Keano’s Ipswich 1-1) and in my opinion it’s fair to say Plymouth simply don’t possess enough quality to resist against any decent club in Championship. Here are some facts about their previous effort. They are the only side not to have kept a single clean sheet this season, have picked up one point from their eight matches against top-half clubs and have conceded nine goals in the last 15 minutes of matches this season - more than any other club. Really can’t see any sign of potential improving. At Riverside, boss Paul Sturrock will have some additional problems, with missing players. Young defender Darcy Blake is suspended, while key striker Rory Fallon will face a fitness test. Also, Pilgrims could have a big problem at right back (Boro’s best scorer so far is winger Adam Johnson, btw.) as Gray and McNamee have ankle injuries.


Difference in quality is obvious, home ground and new manager who will make his debut on the bench will also be the big advantages. My opinion is only miracle could save Plymouth of a debacle at Riverside.  My suggestion is home handicap win. -1, -1.25, -1.5 choose which you like.


I'll be on the road for the weekend. Maybe one more analyze for Sunday (Cardiff), maybe not. Cheers lads.

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