The Opposition: Middlesbrough
Back in the top flight after an absence of seven years, Middlesbrough will be Stoke’s first opponents of the new season.
Boro put their supporters through the mill last season, but ultimately gained automatic promotion after beating rivals Brighton on the final day.
Yesterday they spent €14 million on Atlanta midfielder Marten de Roon and he becomes their third signing of the summer.
Last January’s big money move for Jordan Rhodes helped Middlesbrough over the line eventually, although his scoring record wasn’t quite what the club would have been hoping for.
And manager Aitor Karanka will need the likes of Rhodes to fire as he has a tough task to keep Boro up, although last time they gained promotion they stayed in the Premier League for 11 seasons- surely an omen worth clinging on to for their supporters.
Regardless of their hope for the coming campaign, an opening day trip to a newly promoted side presents a tricky start for Stoke.
Memorable match: Stoke 1-0 Middlesbrough. 21 March 2009. Both sides were stuck at the wrong end of the table ahead of their clash at a blustery Britannia Stadium. Future Stoke player Tuncay showed his quality for the visitors, but it was a classic move that won the game late on for Stoke. Rory Delap’s long throw was headed home by Ryan Shawcross to earn Stoke a massive stride towards safety.
2016-17 Fixtures: 13 August (A), 4 March (H).
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