Home Sports Football Championship Boro to keep Hatters at bay in season-opener
Boro to keep Hatters at bay in season-opener

Boro to keep Hatters at bay in season-opener

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The Championship makes its return on Friday night under the floodlights at Kenilworth Road when newcomers Luton host play-off hopefuls Middlesbrough.

The Hatters stormed to the League One title last season and will be pumped up for their first second-tier fixture in 12 years.

However, with Boro expected to be in the promotion picture once again, an entertaining draw looks the most likely outcome at the start of another roller-coaster Championship campaign.

Draw @ 9/4

Luton have become a tricky side to beat on their own patch and you have to go all the way back to March 2018 for the last time they lost a league fixture in Bedfordshire. Despite their impressive record at Kenilworth Road, it is Boro who enter the game as slight favourites at 33/20, having had one of the better records on the road last season.

Both teams have inexperienced new managers in their respective dugouts, the Hatters having managed to maintain their moment despite losing Nathan Jones to Stoke midway through the last campaign as club legend Mick Harford saw them over the line before he stepped aside.

Graeme Jones is the man in the hotseat now for Luton, while Middlesbrough have swapped the defensive-minded Tony Pulis for homegrown hero Jonathan Woodgate.

The former Boro defender has promised a more attractive brand of football and, much like the club did when appointing him, he has prioritised youth over experience in the transfer window.

Stewart Downing and John Obi Mikel are among those to have moved on, with Marc Bola and Marcus Browne arriving to lower the average age. The Teessiders have kept the majority of the squad that finished just a point outside the play-offs last season intact and are 4/1 to be promoted to the Premier League this season.

Luton will be happy just to consolidate their Championship status this term and have added a few experienced faces to the squad. However, the loss of flying full-backs James Justin and Jack Stacey cannot be underestimated and their pre-season form hasn’t inspired confidence they can down an experienced team like Middlesbrough just yet.

Over 2.5 goals @ 1/1

Goals came easily for Luton last season, smashing in 90 en route to the League One title, with James Collins finishing as top goalscorer on 25 goals. The Hatters only failed to score two or more four times at home in the last campaign and can get at a Boro backline which looks a little short of options.

With Woodgate promising to throw off the shackles clamped on during the Pulis era, we might see the best of Britt Assombalonga. The DR Congo international scored 13 of Boro’s 49 league goals last season and is 7/4 to score first or last in ComeOn’s Goalscorer Premier market.

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Chris Rivers An experienced journalist, Chris is very knowledgeable on a host of different sports and often focuses on NFL, boxing and Formula One. Chris is also a regular at the Emirates Stadium, which adds to his knowledge of top flight and European football.

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