Middlesbrough, the favorite of the three promoted sides to extend their Premier League stay beyond a year, begins its quest for Premier League relevancy as they host Stoke City at 10am E.T. live online at NBCSports.com.
New Boro signings Alvaro Negredo and Victor Valdes both start for the hosts, with incumbent goalkeeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos making way to the bench for the former Barcelona superstar.
WATCH LIVE: Middlesbrough vs. Stoke City live online
The hosts have struggled out of the gates historically, having won their first Premier League game of a season just twice in 14 tries.
For Stoke City, a pair of long-term injuries have marred the opening to their new campaign. Ibrahim Afellay and Stephen Ireland will both miss significant time with leg injuries suffered late last season. Afellay especially will be a big miss, having performed admirably in his first season in the Premier League before tearing his ACL in training in April. Ireland broke his leg in May and will likely be out for a number of months.
With the two unavailable, Marko Arnautovic takes center stage in the Stoke City attack along with Xherdan Shaqiri, both in the starting lineup to start things out. American Geoff Cameron is on the bench to start the season.
Each side won the home leg during the only season both these teams faced off in the top flight, the 2008/09 campaign.
Middlesbrough – Valdés; Nsue, Barragán, Gibson, Friend; Clayton, de Roon; Adomah, Ramírez, Downing; Negredo.
Bench – Konstantopoulos, Rhodes, Fischer, Baptiste, Stuani, Forshaw, Nugent.
Stoke City – Given; Bardsley, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters; Whelan, Imbula; Shaqiri, Bojan, Arnautovic; Diouf
Bench – Allen, Muniesa, Adam, Walters, Cameron, Crouch, Haugaard.