Match Preview : Middlesbrough v Stoke

Middlesbrough mark their return to the Premier League after a seven-season absence by taking on Stoke City at the Riverside Stadium.

Aitor Karanka’s side sealed their top-flight return on the final day of last season with a 1-1 victory over Brighton to finish second in the Championship behind Burnley.

It’s been a busy summer at the Riverside with Alvaro Negredo, Victor Valdes, Viktor Fischer, Marten de Roon and Antonio Barragan all joining the club and they will be looking to make a fast start in front of their home fans on the opening day.

Meanwhile, Stoke have been handed a boost with the news Marko Arnautovic and midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri have both been passed fit for Mark Hughes’ side’s trip to newly promoted Middlesbrough.

The visitors, who are winless in their last six opening day fixtures, were the victors the last time these two sides met in the Premier League back in 2009 with Ryan Shawcross striking late to score the only goal of the game.

Team news

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka has no fresh injury problems as he prepares to send out his team for the first time in the Premier League against Stoke.

Defenders Dani Ayala, who has recovered from a troublesome ankle injury, and Bernardo Espinosa have returned to training after minor knocks and are available.

That leaves only midfielder Grant Leadbitter (hernia surgery) and full-back James Husband (dislocated shoulder) missing for promoted Boro.

Stoke’s former England right-back Glen Johnson is doubtful for the Potters’ Premier League opener at Middlesbrough with a quadriceps injury.

Wales midfielder Joe Allen, the £13m summer signing from Liverpool, is in contention to make his debut.

Forward Jon Walters is available after being eased through pre-season but midfielders Stephen Ireland (broken leg) and Ibrahim Afellay (knee) are long-term absentees.

Opta stats

Middlesbrough have won just four of their last 15 league meetings with Stoke City (W4 D3 L8).

Middlesbrough have won just two of their 14 previous season openers in the Premier League, including in their last campaign in the top-flight vs Tottenham in 2008/09 (2-1).

Indeed, they’ve never won on the opening weekend of a Premier League season as a newly-promoted team (D2 L1).

Mark Hughes has lost just one of his last eight Premier League meetings with Middlesbrough as manager, winning six (D1).

Stoke’s only previous win on the opening day of a Premier League season came against Burnley in 2009.

The Potters are winless in their last six Premier League opening weekend matches, losing four (D2).

Alvaro Negredo scored eight goals in his first 17 Premier League appearances, but netted just once in his subsequent 15 appearances in the competition for Manchester City in 2013-14.

NaijaBet Odds

As at this post Middlesbrough has 2.25  odd to win the match on NaijaBet while stoke has 3.35 odd to win the match also, while the odd to draw the match is 3.07


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