This Tuesday evening is just full of huge games and this fixture definitely falls into that category. Both Middlesbrough and Burnley were tipped as serious promotion contenders but as it stands, only one is getting close to matching those expectations. Considering the money they have spent, Boro have endured a horrific start to the campaign and languish in 20th position while Burnley are performing considerably better and sit in 5th spot.
In our preview featuring Boro last week we said how their supporters are becoming increasingly frustrated with Gordon Strachan’s management and that’s something that certainly won’t have changed since Saturday. The Riverside outfit were soundly beaten 3-0 by QPR, leaving them in 20th position with just four points to their name. They have a goal difference of -6 which considering the amount of attacking players they’ve brought in, is just dumbfounding. Then again, a lack of investment in the defence is looking disastrous with the club already shipping eight goals this term. With that said, chairman Steve Gibson is renowned as being a patient man and while Strachan has been at the helm for a long time now, Gibson knows that it will take time for his new team to gel. However, with most of his recruits being brought in from Scotland, supporters are wondering if the new players are actually good enough to succeed in this league.
Burnley on the other hand are living up to their expectations. While the Clarets are recently relegated, there were doubts over whether or not Brian Laws had what it takes to mastermind promotion. As it stands things are going to plan and supporters will be very happy with their return of ten points, which leaves them just three away from the league leaders. They have won two out of their last three games and after coming back from 3-1 down in a stunning Lancashire derby in their last game, there’s no doubting the spirit that’s at the club.
As for team news, there is nothing to report for Middlesbrough although Gordon Strachan is expected to ring the changes following the calamity on Saturday. The visitors are sweating on the fitness of Chris Iwelumo who is doubtful with a hamstring problem, but have Saturday’s last-minute hero Jay Rodriguez waiting in the wings should Iwelumo not pull through. Elsewhere, Brian Laws has the option of selecting Tyrone Mears who is back in contention following suspension.
Burnley’s home record has been the main reason for their position, with the Clarets yet to register an away victory. We may have been fairly negative towards Middlesbrough, but with their home advantage and reality of their situation setting in, we think they could pull out a victory. A tight 1-0 win for the home side.