Last summer saw manager Tony Pulis embark on his first pre-season transfer window, bringing in the defensive Paddy McNair and Aden Flint and midfielder George Saville (on-loan becoming permanent in January) and on-loan forward Jordan Hugill from West Ham for what was expected to be a promotion pushing season.
However, the loss of attackers Patrick Bamford and Adama Traore affected their goal scoring ability, finding the back of the net just 49 times, with only 4 clubs scoring less, 2 of which were relegated. A saving grace was their resolute defence, which conceded just 41 times, joint top with promoted Sheffield United.
Middlesbrough Opening Fixtures
Middlesbrough have been handed a kind opening start to the campaign, starting out with an away game at newly-promoted Luton Town. A trip to London at Brentford is followed by three-game back up North, with an away day at Blackburn and home games at Wigan and Millwall, ending with a trip to Bristol City.
Middlesbrough Penalty Takers
Having lost Hugill, who slotted home 3 of his 3 penalties, duties now fall to forward Britt Assombalonga, who converted both of his penalties.
Middlesbrough EFL Fantasy Picks
Darren Randolph kept the second-highest clean sheets last season with 19, playing all 46 games in the league. Being so tight at the back we should also be looking at defenders, yet a change from a 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-2-1 to a 3-5-2 for the last 5 games of last season (with 4 wins) suggests that there is uncertainty of game time and rotation of formation. At the other end, 16 goal Assombalonga is a top pick, yet registered no assists. Midfielder Lewis Wing also scored and assisted 5.
Middlesbrough Predicted Lineup
3-5-2: Randolph; McNair, Flint, Shotton; Howson, Besic, Wing, Clayton, Saville; Assombalonga, Fletcher