Blackburn Rovers welcome Middlesbrough to Ewood Park on Saturday afternoon as the pair do battle at 3pm in the Championship. With both teams currently sitting in the bottom half of the league standings, neither will be pleased with their respective starts to what is going to be a competitive campaign ahead. Blackburn are yet to find three points, while the visitors are also in search of their first victory this season.
Blackburn have netted just once goal so far, and that wasn’t even scored by their own player as Dillon Phillips scored an own goal in the disappointing defeat on home soil at the hands of Charlton Athletic. Ben Purrington and Lyle Taylor scored the two goals which won the affair for the visiting side, which meant a trip to Craven Cottage was all that more important. They struggled in those ninety minutes too though, and when Tom Cairney opened the scoring for the Cottagers ten minutes before the interval, it was clear that their first win would have to wait unless a massive performance arrived from nowhere. Former Newcastle United attacker Aleksandar Mitrovic doubled their advantage late in the game, handing Rovers their second successive loss.
Middlesbrough have started the season with a few goals, but no positive results just yet. On the opening day they met new boys Luton Town in what turned out to be a thriller at Kenilworth Road. Ashley Fletcher scored the goal that put his side in front in under ten minutes, but Sonny Bradley and Martin Cranie the thrust Luton into the driving seat. Britt Assombalonga made it 2-2, which was succeeded by a goal from Lewis Wing with little over twenty minutes to go. Assombalonga missed a fantastic opportunity from the spot which would surely have killed off the game, and he was made to regret that miss when Collins equalled the score for Luton. A visit of Brentford last time out was just as disheartening, with Ollie Watkins striking the ball past Randolph for the only goal of the ninety minutes.
Darragh Lenihan, Jacob Davenport and Ryan Nyambe are unlikely to feature, with Davenport expected to make a return in the next few weeks. Sam Hart could also sit this one out due to a hamstring issue. Veteran winger Stewart Downing has been one of little positives for Blackburn, with the left-footer coming up against his old team this weekend. He played well against Charlton, but they’ll need some of their younger players to step up to the plate if they’re to maintain pace with other teams around them. Sam Gallagher is one of those names, as well as Joe Rothwell.
George Friend is a doubt with a groin injury, and Dael Fry will remain on the sidelines for a couple more weeks as he gets back to full fitness following a hamstring injury. Supporters are definitely expecting a big display from their men, with manager Jonathan Woodgate requiring more desire from his squad if they hold any hopes of promotion this time around. Marvin Johnson has performed to a good standard so far, with one assist in the draw with Luton Town. Johnny Howson also put in a couple of solid efforts, but the likes of Paddy McNair and Adam Clayton have played below their potential level recently.
Neither team look certain to come away from this one with three points, due to the inefficient nature of their opening performances. If Middlesbrough can create as many chances as they did versus Luton and tighten the holes in their defense on Saturday, they’ll score plenty. That’s a big ask though, but we’re still going for Middlesbrough to score 2+ @ 2.88 as our opening tip for this match. These are two sides who are yet to know what victory tastes like this season, and because of that we don’t envision either of them holding on to any lead they may take. For this reason, we’re looking at a draw here @ 3.10 as our second tip. Regardless of how well they’ve played at times, it seems too difficult a task to earn three points for both.