Warnock's Boro to tame Farke's Canaries
My EFL value tip this week will be at the Riverside Stadium, with Neil Warnock’s steely Boro playing host to 2019/20 Premier League rock bottom side Norwich City. The Canaries took a few games to adapt to the second tier, but are now in full flow with stars from their 2018/19 title winning season firing on all cylinders. Players that struggled in the topflight like Marco Stiepermann, Max Aarons and Mario Vrancic are forces to be reckoned with once again, this considered, Boro coming in as outsiders is not a surprise but does present a crumb of value. They have been transformed from relegation scrappers last term and wise man Warnock’s Championship powers are alive and well.
The hapless reign of Jonathan Woodgate following the dismissal of Tony Pulis saw Boro attempt to play a more attractive style of play, to which failed to epic proportions seeing the former Real Madrid defender alter his side to a less easy on the eye brand of football that saw them heading towards the third tier before Warnock was called up to save their bacon when the Championship returned after lockdown. This time around they have gone from strength to strength, unbeaten in the league since the opening day, a stretch that has now reached 10 matches, and shoring up a once brittle backline to that of comfortably the best in the division.
Three of Boro’s brilliant back five are of very little experience in the division, but the wisdom of Warnock has woven Anfernee Dijksteel, 24, Dael Fry, 23, and Marc Bola, 22, into promotion pushing defenders who have provided a platform for the attackers to win the side points, they have kept four clean sheets on the bounce, coming up against playoff hopefuls in Brentford, Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest.
Middlesborough have conceded just five goals in 11 league outings, which is an enormous overperformance of 4.5 expected goals however they have still conceded the lowest quality chances in the division, sitting top of the tree for expected goals against. The Canaries have underperformed in front of goal and despite the rigidity of Boro you can guarantee Emiliano Buendia, arguably the best playmaker in the Championship, will carve out some opportunities for his teammates, Teemu Pukki and co have only scored 13 goals from chances equating to 18.4 expected goals, the third highest in the division. Expect the floodgates to open at some point, in terms of this tip, let’s hope that that time comes when they play the likes of Coventry City, Luton Town and Sheffield Wednesday in the coming weeks.
Middlesbrough will be resilient against a side with far better creative qualities than their own, the nature of the match may suit them, they have the tools to hurt Norwich on the counter.