The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: -

GOALS may win games but it’s de­fences that win ti­tles. So Mid­dles­brough must be nailed on to win the Cham­pi­onship, right?

Head­ing into the week­end, Boro had shipped just 27 goals in their 38 games this term, an in­cred­i­ble 13 less than any­one else in the di­vi­sion.

That’s an av­er­age of 0.7 per game which, if main­tained, would see Ai­tor Karanka’s miserly men fin­ish the cam­paign with a goals against tally of 33.

In the last ten years, no side has con­ceded fewer than 40 goals in a Cham­pi­onship sea­son and failed to win pro­mo­tion. In fact, the team with the best de­fence has re­mained in the sec­ond tier only twice – Crys­tal Palace in 2007-08 and Stoke City the year be­fore.

So should we hot­foot it down to Lad­brokes? Well, not so fast. Be­cause the last decade also tells us that no team has scored fewer than 80 goals and gone up.

And with just 59 to their name pre-week­end – the low­est in the en­tire top six – Boro would need to hand out some mighty hid­ings in their fi­nal eight games to even get close.

In short, then, I haven’t got a clue who will win the Cham­pi­onship. But I know this – should Mid­dles brough tri­umph then, sta­tis­ti­cally, they will be the most bor­ing team to win pro­mo­tion for a bloody long time.

TENSE: Ai­tor Karanka

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