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Miserly Middlesbrough may maintain defensive distinction at Norwich

Give Luton another chance

Middlesbrough's Darren Randolph is difficult to beat
1 of 1

EFL
3pm Saturday

Norwich v Middlesbrough
Tony Pulis is doing what Tony Pulis does best and while there are far more attractive teams in the Sky Bet Championship than miserly Middlesbrough, there won't be many who are more efficient.

Boro are joint-top of the division alongside Leeds, who they drew 0-0 against at Elland Road before the international break. That contest which increased the Teessiders' clean sheet league run to five games and a trip to Norwich should hold few fears for them.

Ireland international goalkeeper Darren Randolph is expertly protected by a five-man defence of Dael Fry, Aden Flint and Daniel Ayala in the centre plus wing-backs Ryan Shotton and George Friend, who compensate for a lack of attacking width following the departure of Adama Traore to Wolves.

Mo Besic, Adam Clayton and Jonny Howson are excellent midfielders for this level and Stewart Downing is the creative link for Britt Assombalonga.

Martin Braithwaite's pace and Jordan Hugill's power bring variety to their attack if needed and their late shopping which saw Danny Batth and George Saville arrive at the Riverside added even more depth.

Norwich have scored the same amount of goals as Boro (nine) but they have conceded 12 with only QPR (13) having a leakier Championship defence. An injury to influential centre-back and skipper Grant Hanley is another concern in the defensive department.

The pressure is building on German boss Daniel Farke following last season's 14th-place finish and there has seemingly been little improvement, which is perhaps understandable after the sale of James Maddison to Leicester.

West Brom scored four at Carrow Road and Leeds bagged three, but Middlesbrough may need only one to be successful.

Recommendation
Middlesbrough draw no bet
2pts 8-11 general

Bet on this game at Soccerbase.com

Luton v Bristol Rovers
Luton are not always backing up the consistent market support they receive but they should soon start racking up the victories and a home date with Bristol Rovers looks an ideal opportunity for them to return to winning ways.

The Hatters were beaten 2-1 at Doncaster last week but it is worth checking out the comments from Rovers boss Grant McCann, who said: "They were hard to play against. I think Luton are a very good team, probably the best we've played. It was just a matter of time before they were going to score."

McCann's praise for Luton is interesting as Donny have already met the top two teams, Peterborough and Portsmouth.

Last season's top scorer Danny Hylton just missed out on a return last week following injury but is expected to be back in the team against Rovers and he can help to land a fourth straight Kenilworth Road success in all competitions.

Rovers failed to justify their odds-on status in a goalless draw with bottom club Plymouth last week, which was also their only clean sheet of the campaign.

Recommendation
Luton
2pts 17-20 bet365

Bet on this game at Soccerbase.com

Colchester v Cambridge
Colchester have made a strong start in Sky Bet League Two.

They are the joint-top goalscorers alongside leaders Lincoln and the only teams to have conceded fewer goals have all played six matches compared to Colchester's seven.

There was a naivety about Colchester last season, so it will have been music to the ears of John McGreal to hear opposition managers, such as at Tranmere last week, complaining of United's time-wasting antics. 

Target man Frank Nouble gives more weight to the notion that the Essex side are a more streetwise outfit, but one with talent too. Harry Pell has started the season well and they could be a playoff team.

The same does not apply to Cambridge, who could be heading for a fourth league defeat in five matches.

Recommendation
Colchester
1pt 21-20 general

Bet on this game at Soccerbase.com


Plays of the day

Banker
Luton 17-20
The Hatters seem happy at home, where they have won three on the spin and they can make it four against Bristol Rovers. 

Blowout
Napoli 6-10
Carlo Ancelotti is not having it easy at Napoli, who had to come from behind to beat Lazio and Milan before being thumped 3-0 at Sampdoria. The atmosphere may not be great either because of a protest at ticket prices, giving fluid Fiorentina hope of an upset.

Accumulator
Atletico Madrid 2-5, Luton 5-6, Colchester 21-20, Roma 1-4 Coral

Both teams to score
Games at Sheffield Wednesday 3-4, Port Vale 5-6, Valencia 9-13 188Bet


Thought for the week

The BBC announced this week that they have developed a prototype which will mean internet streaming will no longer be delayed in comparison to watching on TV. That's the good news. The bad news is that it won't be rolled out until 2022.

If streaming is the way football fans will be forced to consume some of the action - Amazon have bought Premier League rights and La Liga and Serie A are now shown on Eleven Sports - this new technology must be brought out more quickly. Time is of the essence.

It's unacceptable that the pictures are so far behind and whatever money is being spent to secure the rights will be pointless if people have to significantly change their viewing habits to the point that they may as well seek illegal streams for free.

For many, using two screens is now the norm and switching off Twitter or other such social media outlets for fear of having the event you're watching ruined is going to turn people off streaming rather than turning off their phones for two hours.

Paying for streaming services is unlikely to catch on until the companies improve their technology. What do we want? No internet lag. When do we want it? Now.


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West Brom scored four at Carrow Road and Leeds bagged three, but Middlesbrough may need only one to be successful
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