Not raining goals at the Riverside
Two teams that have severely underperformed this season meet on Friday night. Middlesbrough are in dire need of a performance after hitting the self-destruct button last weekend. Can Woodgate relieve some of the pressure he’s under? Have a read of our preview here:
Woodgate or Woodgone?
There is no two ways about it, Jonathan Woodgate’s first foray into management has not started well. There was a fair bit of expectation on the former Real Madrid defender when he was given the task of returning Boro to the Premier League but, as it stands, he is closer to leading them into the abyss.
The lack of discipline they showed last weekend in the 3-1 defeat at Swansea was embarrassing. Marcus Browne was sent off after just 12 minutes following a harsh booking and a stupid tackle. The former West Ham youngster showed some promise when on loan at Oxford but he has struggled since moving north.
Paddy McNair’s red card was even worse with the Northern Irish international deliberately elbowing Matt Grimes to add to Woodgate’s woes.
The former European finalists have won just four of their 22 games in the Championship this season and have scored only 19 goals, the fewest in the division.
Time could be running out for former defender and this game against the struggling Potters may well be his last if Boro don’t pick up all three points.
Michael O’Neill has work to do
There is no doubt that Michael O’Neill has had a positive effect on Stoke since taking charge, but he has been left with an uphill task if they are to avoid the drop.
The main issues has been the terrible defending which plagued the Nathan Jones era and O’Neill has done well to make inroads into that problem. Back-to-back clean sheets will be more than welcome, but January still can’t come soon enough.
In O’Neill’s seven games in charge, Stoke have won more Championship games (3) than in the previous 15 matches combined (2).
The 3-0 win against Luton could end up being a very important result at the end of the season with both teams scrapping against relegation. It is unlikely that the Potters will go down if they give their new manager the support he needs to bring in a few new faces in January and a win on Friday would see them move level on points with Middlesbrough.
Middlesbrough vs Stoke betting tip
With Boro’s scoring woes and Stokes improving defence it is unlikely to be a high scoring game on Friday evening. That’s why we are backing this one to finish with under 2.5 goals at odds of 4/5 with Bet365.