Preview: Middlesbrough v Southampton

Middlesbrough host Southampton in their final home game of the Premier League of the season on Saturday, a match of little consequence for either side.

Boro have already been relegated to the Championship after their recent 3-0 defeat to Chelsea, while Saints are firmly entrenched in mid-table without a fear of relegation or a chance of European qualification.

To Steve Agnew's credit, fans at the Riverside Stadium have been treated to some better performances since Aitor Karanka's exit in March, and the stand-in Boro boss vowed to produce more of the same for Southampton's visit.

"It's simple: the level that we are playing at, we have to be more creative and we have to take more risks and we have to create more chances and we have to score more goals," Agnew told the media on Friday.

"But understanding at the same time that you're playing against a level of opposition that has better defenders than the league that you came from.

"Yes, we must be better and we must continue as a club to think that we have one aim next season, and that is to move back very, very quickly to the league that we have just played in all season."
 
On the injury front, midfielder Adlene Guedioura is close to returning to action, while long-term injuries to goalkeeper Victor Valdes (ribs), defender Daniel Ayala (ankle) and midfielder Gaston Ramirez (groin) means they are unlikely to feature again this season.

Meanwhile, Saints boss Claude Puel feels no pressure to improve performances after the side from the south coast failed to win any of their last five matches, four of them without scoring.

"No, there's no pressure overall," the former Nice boss said during Friday's pre-match press conference.

"Perhaps there is but it's only a good pressure and that's normal.

"We are professional people. We want to win the game and to take points and this hasn't changed."

Puel added that has no absentees from his squad, with Charlie Austin and Matt Targett both returning to training this week.

Comments