Middlesbrough v Wolves Good Friday 30th March, 17:30 Live on Sky Sports
Middlesbrough consolidating their top-six position
Middlesbrough signed off for the international break with an entertaining 1-1 draw against Brentford at Griffin Park. Adama Traore scored his fourth goal in eight Championship outings to give the Teessiders an advantage but the Bees levelled proceedings before the interval.
Tony Pulis' men turned in a composed away performance to keep an energetic Brentford at bay in the second period. Playing a more direct style, Boro were happy to contain their hosts before breaking fast with Patrick Bamford, Stewart Downing and Traore all linking up well and troubling the home defence.
Fabio and Rudy Gestede remain long-term injury concerns and Pulis will also be without England U21 midfielder Jack Harrison. The on-loan Man City man has managed just 33 minutes of competitive action across substitute appearances since signing and is now struggling with an abdominal problem.
Wolves back on track
Table-topping Wolves extended their advantage at the summit of the Championship to six points following a convincing 3-1 success against struggling Burton last time out. The Old Gold over-powered their opponents with an impressive display despite the absence of star man Diogo Jota.
The Portuguese mystros will again be missing for Nuno Espirito Santo's side on Good Friday although Wanderers' well-stocked squad showed against Burton they carry plenty of alternative threats. Benik Afobe grabbed two goals in the game while Helder Costa andRuben Neves also performed with aplomb.
Wolves' Expected Goals ratio has dipped from around the 66% mark to 60% levels over the past eight weeks but the league leaders have pocketed maximum points in three of their last four to ease suggestions their peak position could be under threat from the chasing pack.
Old Gold value to avoid defeat
Middlesbrough2.98 are defending two fine records against Wolves when the two clubs lock horns on Good Friday. Boro are unbeaten in 25 home encounters with the Old Gold dating back to 1951 while Wanderers have never managed to complete a league double over the Teessiders in 43 previous campaigns.
Pulis' posse will be confident of keeping that record intact here having enjoyed a recent six-match unbeaten streak (W4-D2-L0) to piece the play-off positions. However, the average position of those six opponents was 18th and so the hosts may have benefitted from a soft run of games.
Indeed, Middlesbrough's record against the league's elite paints a different picture. The hosts have W0-D2-L6 when taking on fellow top-six opposition this term, scoring once. In fact, the Teessiders have returned four defeats from four at the Riverside Stadium without scoring in the same sample.
Wolves' 2.72 are back on track with three triumphs in four and arrive having been beaten just twice in 12 on their travels (W7-D3-L2), both at teams above Middlesbrough in the standings. The visitors haven't lost back-to-back away league matches in over a year and so represent fair Draw No Bet value at1.89.
Don't dismiss an enjoyable encounter
Renowned for his teams organisation and defensive strength, it's a slight surprise to see that only 8/15 (53%) of Middlesbrough matches under Pulis have thus far paid out for Under 2.5 Goals backers in Championship action.
Only half of the Teessiders eight outings at the Riverside under Pulis' stewardship have followed suit although it's worth noting that 12/19 (63%) of season-long matches here have featured fewer than three goals.
Over the past eight fixtures, Boro's contests have averaged 2.79 Expected Goals per-gamewith Wolves' sample producing 2.84 per-game, suggesting Over 2.5 Goals could be a smart play at attractive 2.18 quotes.
However, seven of the Old Gold's previous 11 trips to top-six opposition have fallen below the goals line, and six of their nine visits to the top-half under Nuno's tutelage have also produced Under 2.5 Goals this season.
Back Wolves draw no bet @ 1.89 in Middlesbrough v Wolves