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Prediction: Fulham vs Middlesbrough

Verdict: Boro to qualify

Best Odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: bet365

Having been on a five-match unbeaten run at the start of the new season, Fulham head into the high-profile clash against last year’s Championship rivals in good spirits, although their opponents are flying high as well after picking up four points from their opening two Premier League fixtures.

Fulham

Fulham have clearly struggled to adapt to the demands of the Championship after getting relegated from the Premier League, finishing the last two campaigns very close to the relegation zone. The Cottagers have shown some improvement under new manager Slavisa Jokanovic, but it would appear as though the club owners do not trust the former Watford boss to oversee the transfer dealings at the club. Namely, the Serbian coach has threatened to leave his post if he is not allowed to bring in new players before the summer transfer window closes, with Craig Cline, a friend of the owner’s son apparently in charge of transfers at the moment. The man in question has prevented Jokanovic from signing several quality footballers of late, including Manchester United’s Andreas Pereira, and it remains to be seen whether the situation will affect the team’s performances. The manager seems to have managed to stabilise Fulham during pre-season, as his side enjoyed a very good start to the new campaign, picking up eight points from four league fixtures, while also defeating Leyton Orient in the Capital One Cup. The clash against Middlesbrough will be another great test for the Cottagers.

Team News

Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic has no fresh selection worries, although Ryan Fredericks continues to miss out through an ankle injury.

Middlesbrough

After losing the play-off final to Norwich City the previous season, Middlesbrough came back stronger to secure automatic promotion to the Premier League. And while manager Aitor Karanka has kept hold of most starters from last term, he also made sure to bring in players with top flight experience, with the likes of Negredo, Valdes, Barragan, Ramirez, Guzan, Fischer, De Roon and few others arriving at the Riverside. And it appears that Stewart Downing is right in saying that Middlesbrough are better suited to the Premier League than the Championship as Boro have enjoyed a strong start to the new league campaign. After missing a chance to beat Stoke City at home, Aitor Karanka’s charges impressed to record a 2-1 away triumph over Sunderland, meaning they are high on confidence at the moment. And even though the manager is expected to make several changes to his starting line-up for the Fulham game, the Spaniard always takes Cup competitions seriously, meaning Boro will be out to extend the impressive run at Craven Cottage.

Team News

Summer recruit Marten de Roon and Grant Leadbitter are both out injured, while Viktor Fischer and Albert Adomah are pushing for a start.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Fulham are unbeaten this season (W3 D2)
  • Both teams scored in just one of their past 7 meetings
  • Middlesbrough recorded a 2-0 win on their last visit to Craven Cottage
  • Fulham have four wins in last six home games vs Boro (L2)
  • Boro are unbeaten in last 12 competitive fixtures

Conclusion

Fulham have enjoyed a very good start to the new season, but the recent clash between manager Jokanovic and club board is likely to have a negative effect on the dressing room atmosphere. Meanwhile, Middlesbrough are enjoying their time in the Premier League and we are backing them to make it to the next stage of the League Cup as well.

Verdict: Boro to qualify

Best Odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: bet365

Tue 23 Aug, 2016
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