Following a terrific Championship campaign, Middlesbrough and Burnley will now look to fight their way to safety as they return to the Premier League following an ultimately successful season. Burnley will look to improve further after they were relegated from the top tier the season before where being a little bit more effective in both boxes will give them a decent chance this time round. Middlesbrough have built good foundations and may be an unknown quantity with regards to how they will take to the step up. Both clubs spent big in order to reach the Premier League with 8 digit transfer deals being handed out for Andre Gray and Jordan Rhodes respectively. Scoring enough goals is always pivotal for winning valuable games and surviving which is why these two will be key. Their individual performances could hinge on both clubs beating the drop. With both of them well regarded hotshots in the Championships, I give my verdict on who is most likely to make the step up.
The 24 year old is getting better and better each season with Burnley's big money signing from last season seemingly not affected by how large the transfer fee was. Gray received the Player Of The Season Award in the Championship following 23 goals which shows how far he has come. Next season will be an even better chance to show his worth and Gray will know that there will once again be pressure on his shoulders to find the net for Sean Dyche's men. His pace and ability to get in behind defences should suit Burnley particularly when teams are expected to put them on the back foot. This should leave plenty of space for Gray to exploit and with both good movement and the assistance of Sam Vokes, you would suspect he might get plenty of clear cut chances over the whole season. Gray is effectively a Danny Ings replacement who did well in his debut season in the league. You feel that Gray will have to get enough goals for the Clarets to survive but I think he will and I can see him getting 10+ goals next season.
Middlesbrough have built a very solid defence which is well protected by two holding midfielder's meaning plenty of goals aren't always required however with the step up, Karanka's men cannot bank on their defence to bail them out throughout the season. Jordan Rhodes will probably have to find the net consistently if they are to survive. His arrival in January for a huge fee of over £10 million was a statement of intent but in truth he has not been as outstanding as predicted. There is no doubting his ability to find the net though, his movement and instinct inside the box is second to none which should logically mean he will be comfortable in the Premier League. However I do believe he will need the right service and when the chances do come he will have to raise his levels than he has shown for Middlesbrough so far. If the Riverside Stadium see a creative side next season, then there is no doubting he can score over 10 goals but question marks will still be asked as to whether he can find his feet properly on Teesside and whether he will have players around him who can take the pressure off.
Gray vs Rhodes?
Both of these strikers have the ability to perform well next season but I have a feeling Gray may come out on top out of these two. His pace, movement and energy are all problems that defenders hate and with the player seemingly very confident is his own abilities, I expect him to continue his stature as a player and fire in the goals for Burnley. However writing off Jordan Rhodes as a goalscorer is a very dangerous task but in this instance I think the former Brentford man will have a greater impact on the league.
Who do you think will score the most goals next season? Let us know in the comments below!