Middlesbrough vs Sunderland Predictions

Middlesbrough vs Sunderland predictions for this Championship clash. Middlesbrough and Sunderland aim to enhance Championship playoff chances in the Tees-Wear derby on Sunday, adding a critical chapter to their rivalry. Read on for our free match preview and betting tips

Middlesbrough
Sunderland

Championship | Gameweek 30 – Feb 4, 2024 at 12pm UK at Riverside Stadium

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Middlesbrough vs Sunderland Predictions

£20 Returns £39

Reason for tip: Oliver Glasner's debut for Crystal Palace introduces fresh tactics, likely giving them an edge over Burnley, who struggle defensively. Palace's home advantage and managerial boost may secure a win.

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Reason for tip: Crystal Palace's new defensive solidity under Glasner and threat on the counter, against Burnley's poor away and defensive form, suggests a 2-0 victory for Palace, exploiting set pieces and Burnley's disorganisation.

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£20 Returns £34

Reason for tip: Jean-Philippe Mateta's physicality and aerial ability poised to exploit Burnley's defensive weaknesses, crucial in Glasner's quick transition system, making him likely to score, especially with key creators sidelined.

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Tees-Wear Derby: A Tense Battle for Playoff Positioning

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Key Stats
– Both teams have scored in Boro’s last three matches.
– Sunderland have failed to secure a clean sheet in their last four outings.
– Sunderland and Middlesbrough are separated by just three points in the Championship table.

As Middlesbrough and Sunderland prepare to reignite their historic rivalry in the latest chapter of the Tees-Wear derby, both teams find themselves at a crucial juncture in their Championship campaigns. Positioned at 11th and 7th in the league standings respectively, the two sides are separated by a mere three points, albeit with Middlesbrough holding a game in hand. This encounter promises to be more than just a local derby; it’s a pivotal battle with significant playoff implications.

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Middlesbrough’s Path to Redemption

Middlesbrough’s journey through January was a mixed bag, highlighted by their EFL Cup semi-final against Chelsea. Despite a promising 1-0 lead in the first leg, Boro succumbed to a 6-2 aggregate defeat, a result that Michael Carrick’s side has had ample time to reflect on. The break since their last game on January 23 presents an opportunity for Middlesbrough to regroup and refocus on their promotion aspirations. Prior to their Chelsea debacle, they had secured four points from encounters with Millwall and Rotherham United. Now, they stand just five points behind fifth-placed West Bromwich Albion, poised to make a charge in the 153rd Tees-Wear derby.

Sunderland’s Search for Consistency

On the other side, Sunderland’s recent form has been emblematic of their season’s inconsistency. Despite a commendable 3-1 victory over Stoke City, the Black Cats have struggled on the road, with six losses in 14 away matches. Manager Michael Beale faces the challenge of convincing a skeptical fanbase of his vision, especially following a string of three consecutive defeats. Sunderland’s last triumph at the Riverside Stadium dates back almost 12 years, adding an extra layer of historical significance to this encounter.

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Expected Lineups and Tactical Outlook

Middlesbrough could introduce loanee Luke Thomas at left-back, while Isaiah Jones remains sidelined with a hamstring injury. Sunderland, on the other hand, may retain the XI that faced Stoke, with Mason Burstow looking to build on his first Championship goal.

Middlesbrough’s possible starting lineup:

Dieng; Ayling, Fry, Clarke, Engel; Barlaser, Hackney; Forss, Crooks, Azaz; Greenwood

Sunderland’s possible starting lineup:

Patterson; Seelt, Ballard, O’Nien, Hume; Ba, Ekwah, Neil, Bellingham, Clarke; Burstow

This lineup suggests Middlesbrough will look to exploit Sunderland’s defensive vulnerabilities, particularly through the creativity of Finn Azaz and the goal-scoring threat of Sam Greenwood. Sunderland, buoyed by the form of Jack Clarke, will seek to counter with speed on the flanks and the midfield prowess of Dan Neil.

Key Battles and Tactical Dynamics

The midfield clash between Middlesbrough’s Daniel Barlaser and Sunderland’s Dan Neil could be decisive. Both players’ ability to dictate play and break up opposition attacks will be crucial. Additionally, the duel between Sunderland’s Jack Clarke and Middlesbrough’s Luke Ayling on the flank could provide pivotal moments in the match.

The game is likely to be a tightly contested affair, with both teams showing a tendency towards inconsistency. Middlesbrough’s home advantage and Sunderland’s recent away form suggest a closely matched encounter. However, both teams’ desire for points in the playoff race could lead to an open, attacking game.

The Deciding Factor

The midfield battle and wing-play will be critical in determining the outcome of this match. Middlesbrough’s ability to control the game’s tempo at home against Sunderland’s counter-attacking threat could tip the scales. Moreover, Carrick’s tactical flexibility will be tested against Beale’s resolve to establish his tactical identity amidst scrutiny.

Predictions

Both Teams to Score

Given Middlesbrough and Sunderland’s recent performances, predicting both teams to score is more than just wishful thinking—it’s a calculated expectation grounded in statistical and tactical analysis. Middlesbrough, despite their fluctuating form, have demonstrated a consistent ability to penetrate defences at the Riverside Stadium. Coupled with Sunderland’s knack for finding the net in away fixtures, even amidst their defensive shortcomings, this fixture appears ripe for goals at both ends. Sunderland’s resilience, especially in bouncing back from setbacks with goal-scoring displays, hints at their potential to trouble Middlesbrough’s defence. Concurrently, Middlesbrough’s attacking prowess, highlighted by their scoring record at home, aligns with Sunderland’s recent inability to maintain clean sheets, reinforcing the likelihood of both teams scoring.

Correct Score: Middlesbrough 2-2 Sunderland

A 2-2 draw is a reflection of the competitive balance between Middlesbrough and Sunderland, emphasising their offensive capabilities and defensive vulnerabilities. This prediction isn’t just plucked from thin air; it’s a nod to their recent forms and the intense rivalry that defines the Tees-Wear derby. Both sides have shown they can score and concede in equal measure, suggesting a high-scoring affair is on the cards. Sunderland’s spirited recovery against Stoke City, combined with Middlesbrough’s determined yet inconsistent performances, sets the stage for an evenly contested match where neither side is likely to emerge outright victorious. This scoreline mirrors the dynamics of their previous encounters and the current trajectory of their seasons.

Goalscorer: Sam Greenwood to Score Anytime

Sam Greenwood stands out as a prime candidate to find the back of the net in this high-stakes derby. His goal-scoring form, coupled with Sunderland’s defensive lapses, positions him as a significant threat. Greenwood’s ability to exploit even the slightest defensive errors, along with his clinical finishing, makes him a formidable force. Sunderland’s defence, which has been far from impenetrable this season, will be tested by Greenwood’s movement and precision. Considering the importance of this fixture in the context of playoff ambitions and regional bragging rights, Greenwood’s propensity for crucial goals could very well be the difference-maker.

Corner Prediction: Middlesbrough to Earn More Corners; Total Corners Over 10

Middlesbrough’s tactical approach, especially in front of their home fans, lends itself to a game rich in corner opportunities. Their penchant for wide play and delivering crosses into the box, combined with Sunderland’s defensive strategy of clearing under pressure, suggests Middlesbrough will likely win a significant number of corners. The anticipated open nature of the game, with both teams pressing for a win, is expected to contribute to numerous scoring chances, resulting in corners. This prediction is not just about the number of corners but also highlights the attacking mindset and the pressure both teams are likely to exert, making a high corner count a plausible outcome.

£20 Returns £39

Reason for tip: Oliver Glasner's debut for Crystal Palace introduces fresh tactics, likely giving them an edge over Burnley, who struggle defensively. Palace's home advantage and managerial boost may secure a win.

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£10 Returns £95

Reason for tip: Crystal Palace's new defensive solidity under Glasner and threat on the counter, against Burnley's poor away and defensive form, suggests a 2-0 victory for Palace, exploiting set pieces and Burnley's disorganisation.

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£20 Returns £34

Reason for tip: Jean-Philippe Mateta's physicality and aerial ability poised to exploit Burnley's defensive weaknesses, crucial in Glasner's quick transition system, making him likely to score, especially with key creators sidelined.

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Steve Harrington
Steve Harrington is a sportswriter whose heart beats for football. With a passion that began in the grassroots, he's witnessed the magic of the game from local pitches to grand stadiums. Over the past 7 years, Steve has lent his expertise to several online publications, chronicling the ever-evolving world of football. Beyond his professional pursuits, he holds a special affection for Burnley Football Club, cherishing every triumph and tribulation. Steve believes in the power of storytelling and its ability to bring the beautiful game closer to its ardent fans.