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Middlesbrough would strengthen chances of promotion by signing this free-scoring No. 9 – Opinion

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Middlesbrough Opinion: Mbwana Samatta could fire Boro to promotion next season

According to the Hartlepool Mail, Middlesbrough are interested in signing Tanzanian international striker Mbwana Samatta from Belgian giants Genk.

The same source claims that Boro had the 26-year-old free-scoring centre-forward at the top of their shop list in the January transfer window, although a move failed to materialise.

However, Hartlepool Mail understands that Boro are keen to firm up their interest in the talented striker ahead of the summer window and have sent their scouts to keep close tabs on the Tanzanian, while Cardiff City have also been credited with an interest in the prolific frontman.

Samatta was in terrific form for Genk in the Jupiler Pro League in the recently-concluded campaign, having netted 20 goals in 28 appearances to finish top of the scorer’s list in the Belgian top-flight. The 26-year-old racked up a staggering 32 goals in all competitions this season, including 3 in the group stages of the Europa League.

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The 26-year-old, who currently has 17 goals from 45 international appearances for Tanzania, played for Congolese club TP Mazembe before joining Genk in 2016. He hasn’t looked back since then and has made a big impression in his first couple of seasons in European football, racking up a total of 66 goals and 18 assists from 161 appearances for Genk in all competitions.

Blessed with all the attributes of an out-and-out centre-forward, Mbwana Samatta has caught the eye with his pace, agility, sharpness and clinical finishing in front of goal. Noted for his high levels of stamina, Samatta works extremely hard for his team in the final third and shows plenty of commitment on the pitch more often than not.

The Tanzanian tends to cause plenty of problems to the opposition with his subtle movement and physicality- using his strength and sharpness to lose his marker and making intelligent runs behind the backline. An aggressive player by nature, Samatta is always keen to put his foot through the ball and has the shooting prowess to score goals from outside the box as well. Furthermore, he is very strong in the air and takes his chances very well with both feet and head.

To put things into perspective, Middlesbrough can take a step closer to promotion by beating off competition for Mbwana Samatta. The 26-year-old has shown what a lethal striker he can be in the Belgian top-flight and few would argue against him making the step up to English football.

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Britt Assombalonga scored 14 goals in the Championship this season but the Congolese international spurned plenty of chances and wasn’t clinical enough in front of goal. Boro are unlikely to sign West Ham loanee Jordan Hugill following an unimpressive return of 6 goals in 37 Championship outings, while Rudy Gestede is another player who has slipped down the pecking order.

Samatta would be a massive upgrade on their existing options up front, and given that Assombalonga has attracted interest from recently-promoted Sheffield United (h/t Northern Echo), it won’t be a bad idea for Boro to cash in on him.

Also, they should consider offloading Martin Braithwaite, who has enjoyed a second successive fruitful loan spell away from Teesside and is unlikely to stick around in the Championship. Ashley Fletcher is a useful back-up but someone like Samatta would transform Boro into a formidable force in the Championship.

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If Middlesbrough are really serious about getting back to the Premier League, they need a prolific striker and Mbwana Samatta’s acquisition could solve a lot of problems for manager Tony Pulis.

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Aston Villa

Where will the 3 newly promoted teams finish this season? Can Norwich and Aston Villa beat the drop?

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PL prediction: Where will the 3 newly promoted teams finish this season?

Norwich City, Sheffield United and Aston Villa are the three newly-promoted teams that have come into the Premier League this season.

Only once in Premier League history have all three promoted teams dropped straight back down, and that was back in 1997-98.

Furthermore, there have been three instances when all three promoted teams have survived, most recently in 2017-18, when Newcastle United, Brighton & Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town all retained their Premier League status.

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All the three promoted teams this season – Norwich City, Sheffield United and Aston Villa, have had contrasting starts to the campaign so far. That being said, let’s take a look at who will finish where in the table.

1. Norwich City – 12th

Daniel Farke’s Norwich City took the Championship by storm and confirmed their promotion fairly early.

During the summer transfer window, the Canaries made some interesting signings in Sam Byram, Patrick Roberts, Josip Drmic and Ralf Fahrmann. Clearly, Farke relies on those players who served the club well last season.

Norwich’s opener against Liverpool turned out to be a heavy defeat for the visitors as they lost 4-1 at Anfield. It could have been worse than that but thanks to goalkeeper Tim Krul, as he made a couple of outstanding saves.

But Farke’s side have shown great character to come back from the disheartening opening day defeat at Anfield. They defeated Newcastle United 3-1 at Carrow Road in their first home game of the season, with last season’s star Teemu Pukki scoring a fabulous hat-trick.

If Farke can be flexible with his tactics and get Pukki firing every weekend, the Canaries can certainly enjoy a respectable mid-table finish.

2. Sheffield United – 16th

After conceding the joint-fewest goals and keeping the most number of clean sheets in the Championship last season, Sheffield United are the most impressive defensive unit among the promoted sides.

The Blades have returned to the top-flight for the first time since 2007 and the plans have been laid down in order to stay at the top for a long period of time.

Having snapped up experienced defender Phil Jagielka on a free transfer following his release from Everton, Chris Wilder focused on bolstering his attack in the transfer window, with the likes of Lys Mousset, Oliver McBurnie, Callum Robinson and Luke Freeman arriving at Bramall Lane.

And to everyone’s surprise, they have enjoyed a really promising start to the Premier League campaign, picking up four points from the first two games. Wilder’s men drew 1-1 with Bournemouth before beating Crystal Palace 1-0 at home at the weekend.

If Sheffield United can make the Bramall Lane a fortress, chances of them beating the drop would become higher.

3. Aston Villa – 17th

Aston Villa beat Derby County in the playoff finals at Wembley to become the third promoted side this season.

Upon their return to the top-flight since the rock-bottom finish in 2016, they were one of the biggest spenders in the summer window as Dean Smith signed as many as 13 players.

The Villans released a number of experienced stars including Alan Hutton, Micah Richards and Glenn Whelan in order to reduce the squad’s age and pump in some fresh, young talents.

Despite reinforcing the backline, Aston Villa have conceded five goals in the first two games. There is a lot to improve for Smith’s side, who are yet to open their account in the points table.

Villa’s massive summer spending is risky and reminds us of Fulham’s approach last season after their promotion. The plan backfired and the Cottagers now find themselves back in the Championship.

Certainly, it won’t be a similar case as far as Villa are concerned, with Smith being a smart tactician. He also has assistant coach John Terry to somehow help the club in difficult situations. It’ll be a close shave, nevertheless!

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Huddersfield Dragon

5 Talking points from Championship gameweek 3 including Leeds United and Jan Siewert’s sacking

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Five talking points from Championship game week three

The third gameweek of the 2019/20 Championship campaign offered a lot of thrills and spills throughout the weekend.

Hull City continued their unbeaten run, while Reading gave Cardiff City a 3-0 hiding on Sunday. But the biggest talking point of the weekend was Jan Siewart’s dismissal after Huddersfield Town fell to a 2-1 defeat to Fulham.

That being said, here are five talking points from the Championship gameweek three.

1. Luton Town 1-2 West Brom: Grady Diangana helps the Baggies to three points

After a miserable week that saw West Brom get eliminated from the Carabao Cup at the hands of Millwall, the Baggies managed to bounce back with a 2-1 win against Luton.

Substitute Grady Diangana scored twice within six minutes of coming on for his West Brom league debut to give Slaven Bilic’s side a crucial win.

West Brom are one of the five teams with seven points after three games, having come from behind to win 2-1 against Luton as they did on the opening day against Nottingham Forest.

2. Wigan Athletic 0-2 Leeds United: Patrick Bamford double sinks Wigan

Leeds United’s good start to the season continued at the weekend as they ran out 2-0 winners against a 10-man Wigan Athletic. Marcelo Bielsa’s side deserved a win, which saw them move back to the top of the Championship table.

If there was anybody in Leeds’ ranks who needed a goal to regain confidence, it had to be Patrick Bamford. With previous season’s top-scorer Kemar Roofe departing the club, the Whites desperately need Bamford to deliver the goods this term. And the former Chelsea man bagged a brace, sending the fans home on a happy note.

3. Barnsley 2-2 Charlton Athletic: The Addicks maintain their unbeaten start to the season

Charlton Athletic have enjoyed a solid start to the Championship campaign following their promotion this year. They are one of the five teams with seven points after three games.

A 90th-minute penalty from Lyle Taylor helped Charlton maintain their unbeaten start to the season in an entertaining draw with Barnsley at Oakwell.

Barnsley were 2-1 up, thanks to goals from Cauley Woodrow and Conor Chaplin, but a foul from defender Bambo Diaby on Conor Gallagher handed the Addicks a lifeline in the 90th minute.

And Taylor stepped up confidently to salvage a point from the spot for Lee Bowyer’s visitors.

4. Huddersfield Town 1-2 Fulham: Jan Siewert sacked by the Terriers

Jan Siewert was sacked after a defeat to Fulham which left him with a record of just one win in 19 matches at the John Smith’s stadium.

Only one point in the first three games has left the Terriers reeling in the relegation zone. It was all doom and gloom under Siewert and sacking him after a poor start to the season was perhaps the only decision the club’s hierarchy could take.

For now, Siewert’s assistant head coach Colin Bell remains a part of the coaching staff, and Mark Hudson will also be assisted by academy manager Leigh Bromby and under-19s manager Dean Whitehead.

5. Millwall 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday: The Owls’ unbeaten start to the season is over

Sheffield Wednesday’s unbeaten start to the new season was over as they fell to a 1-0 defeat to a 10-man Millwall in what was a very frustrating afternoon for the Owls.

Matt Smith gave Millwall the lead with a header from a corner but his teammate Jed Wallace was sent off in the first half. That gave Sheffield Wednesday a fantastic chance to maintain their 100% record. However, they struggled to create clear openings and lost at the Den.

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Chelsea

5 Talking points from Premier League gameweek 2 including VAR drama and Norwich masterclass

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Five talking points from Premier League gameweek two

Week two of the new Premier League campaign is now over, with Wolves and Manchester United settling for a 1-1 draw.

A victory for the Red Devils would have seen them become only the third side to record two straight victories this season so far, with Liverpool and Arsenal currently boasting a 100% record after champions Manchester City dropped points at home to Tottenham on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Frank Lampard is yet to win his first game as a Chelsea manager as his side were held to an exciting 1-1 draw by Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Here, we take a look at five talking points from the second week of the 2019/20 Premier League season.

1. Norwich 3-1 Newcastle United:  Teemu Pukki grabs the headlines

Teemu Pukki was a revelation in the Championship last season, guiding Norwich City to top-flight promotion. And he has taken the Premier League like a duck to water, scoring four goals in two games thus far.

The Finland international scored a fantastic hat-trick against Newcastle United at the weekend, which also involved a rasping pile-driver from inside the box that Martin Dubravka had no chance to keep out.

The 29-year-old has shown what he is capable of doing and Daniel Farke will expect his marksman to keep delivering the goods consistently.

2. Manchester City 2-2 Tottenham: VAR denies Man City a late winner

The battle between Manchester City and Tottenham produced some late drama once again, courtesy of the VAR.

For the second time in four months, City saw a decisive stoppage-time goal against Tottenham snatched away by VAR, leaving them with a 2-2 draw rather than a 3-2 victory.

VAR disallowed Gabriel Jesus’ goal two minutes into stoppage time after a hand-ball earlier in the move by Aymeric Laporte.

Given the stakes are high in the Premier League, these two dropped points for Pep Guardiola could be pivotal come May.

3. Southampton 1-2 Liverpool: Sadio Mane comes back to haunt the Saints

Liverpool seem to have a new talisman this season in Sadio Mane, who came back to haunt Southampton at the weekend.

After helping the Reds add the European Super Cup to the Champions League, Mane got the ball rolling for Jurgen Klopp’s men with a superb goal in first-half stoppage time before Roberto Firmino scored in the second half to hand the visitors a two-goal cushion.

A comedy of errors from Adrian in goal gifted Danny Ings his first goal of the season, but Liverpool saw the game out to earn two wins from their opening two matches.

4. Sheffield United 1-0 Crystal Palace: John Lundstram helps the Blades to three crucial points

Any team that takes Sheffield United lightly at Bramall Lane would simply be digging its own graveyard.

Chris Wilder’s men have been impressive in the first two games, earning their first victory of the top-flight campaign against a spineless Crystal Palace side via to a second-half strike from John Lundstram. The Blades also gave a glimpse of how difficult they are going to be at home.

5. Chelsea 1-1 Leicester City: Frank Lampard still waiting for his first win as Chelsea boss

It has been a tough start for Frank Lampard at Chelsea, although the 41-year-old will be encouraged with the displays in the last two games after the 4-0 thrashing against Manchester United.

Chelsea started strongly and were rewarded with an early goal through Mason Mount, however, they couldn’t double their advantage or bury the game in the first half when they had the chances to do so.

That gave Leicester a chance to bounce back in the second half and they did so, equalising through Wilfred Ndidi. The Foxes have only themselves to blame for not taking more than a point out of the Bridge.

Lampard has a lot to improve if his team is to make it to the top-four but for now, he remains without a win.

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