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Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Bournemouth - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship clash between Middlesbrough and Bournemouth, including team news and predicted lineups.

Bournemouth will be looking to make it back-to-back wins at the start of their 2020-21 Championship campaign when they travel to Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon.

The Cherries, who will be looking for an immediate return to the Premier League, beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2 in their season opener last weekend, while Boro suffered a 1-0 defeat at Watford on Friday night.

Match preview

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock pictured in the EFl Cup on September 4, 2020© Reuters

There will be 1,000 supporters inside the Riverside Stadium on Saturday afternoon as the contest has been chosen as part of a pilot scheme for the return of fans to grounds.

Boro will not have head coach Neil Warnock on the sidelines for this weekend's contest, though, with the 71-year-old currently in isolation after testing positive for coronavirus.

Assistant manager Kevin Blackwell and first-team coach Ronnie Jepson took charge of Tuesday's EFL Cup clash with Barnsley, which ended in a 2-0 loss, and that will again be the case against Bournemouth.

Boro will be looking for their first victory of the season, having opened their 2020-21 Championship campaign with a 1-0 loss at Watford on September 11.

The former Premier League club finished 17th in the Championship last season, but the supporters will be looking for a big improvement this term, and Saturday's contest is likely to give a good indication of how far Boro are away from the better teams in the division.

Bournemouth manager Jason Tindall pictured in September 2020© Reuters

Now under the management of Eddie Howe's former assistant Jason Tindall, Bournemouth started their 2020-21 Championship season with a 3-2 home win over Blackburn last weekend.

Arnaut Groeneveld came up with the winner for the Cherries in the 84th minute, and it would be fair to place the club amongst the favourites to win the Championship this season.

Bournemouth were also in EFL Cup action on Tuesday night and managed to progress to the third round of the competition courtesy of a penalty-shootout success over Crystal Palace.

Key players in the shape of Nathan Ake, Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Aaron Ramsdale have moved on this summer, but the club have thus far managed to keep the likes of David Brooks and Joshua King.

The Cherries have won three of their last four clashes with Boro in all competitions, including a 3-0 home success when they last locked horns in the Championship more than five years ago.

Middlesbrough Championship form: L
Middlesbrough form (all competitions): WLL

Bournemouth Championship form: W
Bournemouth form (all competitions): WW

Team News

David Brooks in action for Bournemouth on July 26, 2020© Reuters

Boro made wholesale changes to their XI for the midweek EFL Cup clash with Barnsley, but the hosts could be unchanged from the side that started against Watford in their Championship opener.

Ashley Fletcher is again likely to join Britt Assombalonga as part of a front two, while Grant Hall is expected to make just his second league appearance for the club since arriving from Queens Park Rangers.

Marcus Browne is back with Boro this season and was involved against Barnsley from the start, but the 22-year-old is expected to drop to the bench for this weekend's contest.

As for Bournemouth, the majority of the side that started against Blackburn should continue, meaning that Dominic Solanke is again expected to lead the line.

Brooks started and finished the EFL Cup win over Palace during the week and could now come into the starting XI, potentially at the expense of Junior Stanislas in a wide area.

Lewis Cook and Lerma should keep their positions in midfield, meanwhile, despite Philip Billing, Harry Arter and Dan Gosling all pushing for spots in the middle of the park.

Asmir Begovic should also retain his spot in goal, having recovered from a dead leg to feature against Palace, but King and Diego Rico remain fitness doubts for the visitors.

Middlesbrough possible starting lineup:
Bettinelli; Dijksteel, Hall, McNair; Spence, Howson, Saville, Tavernier, Johnson; Fletcher, Assombalonga

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Begovic; Smith, Kelly, Cook, Mepham, Stacey; Groeneveld, Lerma, Cook, Brooks; Solanke

SM words green background

We say: Middlesbrough 1-2 Bournemouth

Boro are certainly capable of making it a tough afternoon for Bournemouth, who will concede plenty of goals this season. The Cherries have a lot of quality going forward, though, and we fancy the visitors to put another three points on the board courtesy of a narrow success at the Riverside Stadium.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Away:data

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Bournemouth's Callum Wilson celebrates scoring their third goal on January 21, 2020
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