Middlesbrough have made clear their intention of bouncing straight back up to the Premier League at the first time of asking by embarking upon a huge summer spending spree and the bookies certainly fancy their chances given that they brought in the likes of Jonathan Howson, Ashley Fletcher, Martin Braithwaite and of course Britt Assombalonga. Most firms make the Teessiders favourites to win the Championship title at 7/1 although they didn’t get off to the best of starts when losing 1-0 at Wolverhampton in their opening match.
There have been player movements in the opposite direction with Gaston Ramirez and Jordan Rhodes leaving the club for a reported £19 million between them, however having spent some £43 million during the summer – a huge amount for a second-tier outfit – it is clear that Middlesbrough are aiming to make a swift return to the top-flight at the end of the season. Nevertheless we feel that they will be in for some very tough opposition this season from the likes of Wolves, Derby County and Aston Villa and this 7/1 price might not be so attractive after all.
Sheffield United stormed their way to the League One title in emphatic fashion and this excellent form continued in their opening Championship game when they defeated Brentford to the tune of 1-0. They followed this by edging past Walsall 3-2 in the League Cup and they will be confident of making it three wins on the bounce at the Riverside on Saturday.
This promises to be a tougher season than Middlesbrough may have anticipated and this was borne out by their opening-day defeat. They are favourites to win on Saturday evening but we see much more value in backing a draw at 5/2 given that the Blades have sufficient quality within their ranks to mount a serious play-off challenge. Both of these sides are decent in attack and both teams to score at odds of 21/20 with Ladbrokes seems pretty overpriced to us.