Monday, October 22, 2018

Prediction: Middlesbrough vs Sunderland

Verdict: Over 2,5 goals – yes

Best Odds: 13/10

Bookmaker: 888sport

Middlesbrough and Sunderland will battle for a fourth-round berth in the FA Cup this Saturday. The Black Cats will look to reach that stage for the first time since 2015, while Boro will try to take advantage of playing in their home venue as they seek a win against their Championship foe. The game will start at 1 PM.

Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough have been playing quite well in recent weeks. Boro have won three of their last four Championship fixtures, and began the new year with a solid 3-2 win over Preston away from home. The recent run of results have Boro sitting in eighth place of the Championship standings, thanks to 12 wins, five draws, and nine losses. They are just two points back the playoff zone, and will enter this game with a lot of momentum their way. The presence of Britt Assombalonga upfront will be key for Boro as well, as the striker has scored 12 times in 26 league appearances, but he needs to get back to his early-season form since he has just one goal in his last eight appearances. If he is on target, then Middlesbrough have decent chances of progressing considering Sunderland’s defensive weakenesses.

Team News

Middlesbrough are at full strength ahead of this game.

The lone absentee is Fabio, as the left-back is expected to leave the side in the coming days and will not be involved in this game as a result.

Sunderland

It is not a secret that this season has not gone as expected for Sunderland. Recently relegated from the Premier League, The Black Cats have struggled more than expected in the Championship, and the numbers back that up. Through 26 games, the team sits dead last in the standings with just 22 points, and have compiled just four wins against 10 draws and 12 losses. They have a W3 D3 L4 mark over their last 10 games, and right now they look like a candidate to play in the League One next season if they don’t turn things around soon. Their FA Cup fate has not been very impressive either. Sunderland have failed to reach the fourth round since 2015, and have lost three of their last four games in the competition.

Team News

Sunderland are seriously depleted when it comes to injuries ahead of this match. The latest casualty was Darron Gibson, as the 29-year-old has been ruled out due to a groin injury.

Gibson joins a long list of absentees. Lamine Kone, Lee Cattermole, Didier Ndong, Jack Rodwell, Jonny Williams, Duncan Watmore, Adam Matthews, Lynden Gooch and Lewis Grabban are all out. Paddy McNair and Aiden McGeady will require late-fitness tests to determine their availability.

Key Factors to Consider

  • These two north-east rivals have been drawn together five times previously, with three of those ties going to a replay. Sunderland advanced three times, and Boro progressed twice.
  • These two teams met in the Championship in November last year. Middlesbrough won 1-0 at home thanks to a first-half goal from Marcus Tavernier.
  • Neither side has impressed in the FA Cup of late. Boro have a W3 D0 L2 mark in their last five Cup matches at Riverside, while Sunderland have dropped three of their last four FA Cup matches, drawing the other and scoring just once.
  • The first-ever meeting between the sides also came in the FA Cup way back in 1887. It ended in a 2-2 draw.
  • Boro are eighth in the Championship standings with 41 points. Meanwhile, Sunderland sit at the bottom with just 22 points, and seem ticketed to play in the League One next season.

Conclusion

Boro have scored at least two goals in three of their last four matches, and Sunderland have failed to keep a clean sheet three times as well over that span.

Considering this is a do-or-die game for both clubs, we could witness an open encounter with both teams pushing forward. Therefore, it’s safe to expect over 2,5 goals in this one.

Verdict: Over 2,5 goals – yes

Best Odds: 13/10

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Pablo Aravena


A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.

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