Championship: Our three best bets for Luton Town v Middlesbrough

Football is back baby!


Okay, so with all due to respect to the African Cup of Nations, the Women’s World Cup and the Copa America, there’s just something more engaging than weekly football in a league format.

Now, the English are having a rough time of it at present. Their country is being voluntarily shepherded out of the European Union, while their government has elected a man-child who hasn’t had a haircut in a decade.

But they do get to claim ownership of the best football league in the entire world – the EFL Championship – and it’s back!

Here are three bets to start you off on the right foot.

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Middlesbrough to win – 15/8

Luton Town are a proper football club. They’re effectively the Middlesbrough of London, some might say.

Slightly away from civilisation, forgotten about – a bit grimy. But, that’s no slight. That’s a huge endorsement from my end.

The difference between the two is that one side is familiar with the pressures of Championship football, while the other will take some time to become acclimatised.

Neither of these sides have done wholesale business, either. Luton Town are without their leader Nathan Jones who departed for Stoke midway through the league-winning campaign, and their purchases of Callum McManaman, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Brendan Galloway and Simon Sluga hardly excite.

This is a game too soon for them, and I foresee a partisan crowd actually playing into Boro’s hands here.

Team To Have 5 Or More Shots on Target: Middlesbrough – 5/6

Luton weren’t that defensively sound last year, they just controlled games in midfield before converting their countless chances into 90 goals.

Their blueprint was never to contain, and it’ll have to be this year as they’re ready to embrace the second tier.

Defensively, teams behind them in second and third both had better defensive records, and they’ve not brought in reinforcements to better that concern. Middlesbrough played a super brand of football last year and were just a point off playoffs in the end – and perhaps only Aden Flint’s loss will be felt.

Marcus Browne has come in from West Ham and he’d be a contender for biggest upside in the division if it clicks for him.

Expect Boro to test Luton’s resolve time and time again.

Both Teams to Score in the First Half? (Yes) – 7/2

What Luton will use in order to make up for their lack of composure will be raw energy. If Boro take some time to realise they’re back from their summer adventures, Luton certainly won’t.

They could easily nick an opener and try and sit back for the remainder. It won’t work, but the opening 15 minutes will be helter-skelter. If you’ve never been to Luton or you’re not familiar with the club, they’re not quite like the rest.

There’s no filter at Kenilworth Road. Take Millwall and strip away the faux-aggro element that arrived post-Green Street. The ball gets sucked into the net, and the way the game is probably going to go, I can’t see Luton playing football in the second half.

You can imagine the team talk now – ‘into them from the off’, and so it’ll pass.

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What do you think?