Middlesbrough v Sunderland
Wednesday 26th April, 19:45


The new manager bounce never really happened for Middlesbrough. If the board were hoping for an instant impact when they sacked Aitor Karanka and replaced him with assistant Steve Agnew then they must be sorely disappointed with what they have witnessed since.

Boro showed some promise in Agnew's first game, a 3-1 loss at home to Manchester United but since then it has gone downhill - or at least sideways - from where Karanka left the club. In fact, Agnew is still winless after six games in charge.

That string of results means the Teessiders are now nine points adrift of safety with just five games remaining and look destined for the drop regardless of the result they get in this derby game.

Boro's strong defensive record had been one of their only redeeming qualities this season but even that has started to disappear, conceding four times in defeats to both Hull and Bournemouth in recent weeks. That would be fine if they were creating chances down the other end but Boro have the worst strike force in the Premier League, scoring just 23 goals this season.

The hosts will also be without Gaston Ramirez after his reckless red card in that 4-0 defeat on the south coast, leaving creative attacking options even more limited. 


What a miserable season it has been for Sunderland. While the likes of Swansea and Hull have shown grit and fight from perilous positions, giving them a glimmer of hope in the race for survival, there has been none of that on Wearside. The Black Cats are going down with a whimper.

David Moyes has looked increasingly weary as the season has gone on and a series of strange outbursts from him in the past month have been far more eye-catching than anything Sunderland have produced on the pitch this season.

His men are now 12 points from safety and all but assured of relegation. The Scot has a hell of a rebuilding job to do if the board keep faith in him for next season and he will almost certainly have to do it without his two star players:Jordan Pickford and Jermain Defoe.

Wahbi Khazri repaid his manager with a goal direct from a corner after being named in the starting line-up for the first time since October in the last game against West Ham 10 days ago. Apart from that 2-2 home draw, sealed thanks to a late Fabio Borini equaliser, there has been very little to cheer for Sunderland in recent weeks and even a win on Wednesday night will do little in their fight to stay in the Premier League. 

Match Odds

If ever there was a game that both sides could contrive to lose it would be this one. Boro and Sunderland are both in dreadful form.

Boro are winless in 16 games and can be backed at 2.30 to break that run and pick up three points here.

That price would seem short were it not for the fact that Sunderland have not won in their past eight games - conceding 16 and scoring just two. The Black Cats can be backed at 3.50 for an away win. The draw, which probably looks like the most attractive selection here, is alsoavailable at 3.50.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals

For a while it looked as though Jermain Defoe was single-handedly going to keep Sunderland up this season. The 34-year-old has scored an impressive 14 of the Mackems' 26 goals but even his effort hasn't been enough to maintain their Premier League status.

Defoe has now not scored in eight games since netting against Crystal Palace in February - 765 minutes of football. That run will not be easy to break against the 10th best defence in the league.

The Riverside has seen fewer goals than any other ground in the top flight this season and I cannot foresee that trend suddenly changing on Wednesday night.

These are the two lowest scoring teams in the Premier League this season, Boro have played out seven 0-0 draws and both sides are more or less relegated already. Taking all that into account, odds of 1.81 look far too long forUnder 2.5 Goals.

Recommended Bets

Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.81

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