Middlesbrough vs Sunderland
Date: 26th April 2017
Kickoff: 19:45 UK/ 20:45 CET
Venue: Riverside Stadium
Middlesbrough host Sunderland in the second North East derby of the season. Both sides will be looking to pick up their first win for a long time as they are the two sides in the worst form this year.
A win for either side would keep them both in the same position in the league, Middlesbrough 19th and Sunderland 20th.
This will also most likely be the last North East derby in the Premier League for at least a season as both sides look to set to be relegated this year.
Middlesbrough won the reverse fixture between the two sides this season and will be hoping they can pick up the win again if for no other reason than pride.
While Boro are not relegated yet, if they lose to Sunderland they can be relegated as early as this Sunday if other results do not go their way.
The Teessider’s are without a win in 2017. Furthermore, since Steve Agnew took over, they have completely fallen apart. They were thrashed 4-0 by Bournemouth last Saturday and beaten 4-2 by Hull a few weeks ago. This means Boro have conceded four goals in two separate games in Agnew’s short space in time, something they did just once in Karanka’s three-year reign.
As Steve Gibson looks to want to give Agnew more time, Boro really needs to beat Sunderland if Agnew is to be appointed full time.
Injury news: Valdes, De Roon and Leadbitter will all be assessed prior to the game. Gaston Ramirez will miss out due to suspension.
Sunderland, like Boro look set to be relegated after spending nine consecutive seasons in the top flight.
While David Moyes believes Sunderland still have a chance to stay up, they are currently dead bottom and 12 points behind 17th place Hull. After Sunderland’s last game against West Ham Moyes said ‘We’ll keep believing while we’re in with a chance, and somewhere along the line hope the football gods will shine on us’. However, Sunderland are currently the team on the second worst form in the league. The first being Middlesbrough. Also, before their 2-2 draw against West Ham, Sunderland had not scored a goal in seven games. Therefore, it is very unlikely Sunderland will stay up this season due to their awful run of form.
But if they are to stand any chance of staying up, a win against Boro is a must.
Injury news: Watmore, Oviedo and Kirchhoff will all miss the derby through injury. Larsson is suspended until the 6th of May.
Middlesbrough XI: Guzan, Fabio, Gibson, Ayala, Friend, Downing, Clayton, Forshaw, Traore, Gestede, Negredo
Sunderland XI: Pickford, Jones, O’shea, Denayer, Manquillo, Ndong, Cattermole, Gibson, Khazri, Defoe, Anichebe
Head to head
The two sides have met a total of 143 times. Sunderland have beaten Boro 61 times with Middlesbrough being victorious on just 45 occasions. The remaining 37 games ended in draws.
The last time these two teams met, earlier this season, Boro came out on top winning 2-1. That win was Boro’s first win in the Premier League for 7 years.
Sunderland have not beat Boro since 2012 when they won 2-1 in the FA Cup.
Both of these sides are in awful form defensively and offensively. Therefore, expect a poor quality scrappy game. While neither side looks like winning a game, Sunderland do look slightly less useless than Boro so they are probably the more likely of the two to nick a win.
Final score prediction: 2-1 Sunderland