Middlesbrough v Bournemouth: We’re proving we can compete, insists Karanka as Boro look to end home hoodoo

Boro pace ace Adama Traore battles against Watford in the last home match. Picture by Tom Collins

Boro pace ace Adama Traore battles against Watford in the last home match. Picture by Tom Collins

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They may not have won in their last eight games, but Aitor Karanka says that Middlesbrough are improving and have shown that they can compete in the Premier League.

Last week’s creditable goalless draw at Arsenal ensured that they still have only lost once in five top-flight away games.

But at home, Boro’s record is concerning. Ahead of welcoming Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth to the Riverside tomorrow (kick off 3pm), Boro have lost three of their four games on Teesside, managing just one point – against Stoke on the opening day.

Additionally, they have only located the back of the net seven times, leading some fans to wonder where the goals will come from.

Karanka, however, isn’t worried. “Nobody expected us to get a point at Arsenal and we drew that game,” he said.

“We can compete in every single game.

“It’s not just about the last performance. It’s about West Ham (1-1 draw) and the first half against Watford (1-0 loss).

“We have to keep improving. After Tottenham (2-1 loss), we have improved.

“The way we managed the game at Arsenal was really good and we have to keep improving.

“I’m not concerned. With the players we have and the quality they have, we will score goals.

“At Arsenal, we had three or four chances.

“We will keep playing in our style and keep thinking we can win every single game.”

Despite his positive persona, Karanka did confess that the longer the winless run goes on, the more the pressure will rack up.

“We don’t want to arrive to games obsessed that we have to win,” he admitted.

The form of Adama Traore – who was statistically the fastest man in the Premier League last weekend with a run which was recorded as 34.84km/h – has given cause for optimisim.

Karanka agrees and is excited by the former Aston Villa player.

“I said before the Arsenal game that Adama can bring us the pace we didn’t have,” Karanka added.

“In the Premier League you need players like him.

“It’s more about him understanding that he’s come into a really organised team.

“He needs to understand everything. When he does he will be an amazing player.

“He has massive potential. He needs to learn tactically, but he’s ready to learn.”

Grant Leadbitter, meanwhile, has returned to training and Karanka has said that the former Sunderland midfielder may play in Boro U23s’ next game – against Newcastle at St James’s Park in a Premier League 2 match on Monday.

Leadbitter has been out since undergoing hernia surgery at the end of last season.