With seven matches in the books, winless Middlesbrough are rooted to the foot of the Championship table as they prepare to host Southampton at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.
- Middlesbrough have recorded two draws and five losses in the league this season
- Southampton have lost each of their last three Championship games
- The Saints possess the worst defensive record in the Championship
Middlesbrough and Southampton were viewed as pre-season promotion contenders, but both sides have failed to live up to expectations this term, with Boro propping up the table after seven games.
After reaching the play-offs last season, Middlesbrough were expected to hit the ground running in 2023-24. However, Michael Carrick’s men have flattered to deceive this term, failing to win any of their seven league matches.
In fact, Boro have taken just two points from a possible 21 this season, conceding at a rate of two goals per game. On top of that, Carrick’s side are the joint-lowest scorers in the Championship, having netted a measly five goals.
Following relegation from the Premier League last term, Southampton made an impressive start to life in the Championship, taking 10 points from their opening four games while scoring 10 goals for good measure.
Since then, however, the Saints have suffered three straight defeats, with thrashings at the hands of Sunderland (5-0) and Leicester City (4-1) preceding a 1-0 loss against Ipswich Town. All of a sudden, Russell Martin’s side find themselves in a bad place.
Middlesbrough and Southampton last faced each other during the 2016-17 Premier League campaign, with the Saints doing the double over Boro that season.
When you look at the bigger picture, Middlesbrough have won four of their previous five meetings with Middlesbrough, scoring at least two goals on three occasions in that sequence.
The hosts are still without long-term injury absentee Matt Clarke, who has not featured since October 2022 due to a back problem, while Anfernee Dijksteel also finds himself on the treatment table.
Southampton’s injury list contains Juan Larios, Jack Stephens and Ross Stewart, who is still waiting to make his debut for the Saints following his summer switch from Sunderland.
Nottingham Forest loanee Lewis O’Brien and Leeds United loanee Sam Greenwood will be crucial to Middlesbrough’s chances of escaping relegation trouble, as will the experienced duo of Jonathan Howson and Paddy McNair.
Southampton striker Adam Armstrong has hit the ground running this season, scoring four goals in seven appearances, while Che Adams has contributed three goals.
This clash brings together two sides in desperate need of a win. While Middlesbrough have failed to win any of their seven league outings this season, Southampton head into Saturday’s showdown on a three-game losing streak. Accordingly, we will likely see a tense and cagey affair at the Riverside.