Sunderland host Middlesbrough on Saturday and both sides will be confident that they can win the tie, based on their impressive recent form. In this exact fixture last season, the Black Cats won 2-0.
The Black Cats and Tony Mowbray continue to put their trust in youth to provide results, and so far this season, it is proving to be a successful move. Sunderland are in fourth place after ten games, winning 60% of them. It is clear that they are exciting in attack but also have a respectable output of two goals per game on average. As well as this, they have the second best defensive record in the Championship, conceding an average of 0.8 goals per ninety minutes. Sunderland are also consistent regardless of the venue, which showcases that their performances are most likely sustainable.
Last time out, Sunderland easily swept aside Watford, winning the tie 2-0. Niall Huggins opened the scoring just before half time and Abdoullah Ba doubled the lead just after the hour mark. Mowbray’s side controlled the tie and it was a comfortable victory in the end as the Hornets didn’t really threaten in attack.
Boro had an extremely poor start to the season and they went seven games without a win. However, Michael Carrick has turned it around in recent weeks and they have won their last three Championship matches. This puts Middlesbrough in 17th place on 11 points, but the team are now full of confidence. Away from home, they have struggled and lost three of their five games, conceding over two goals on average. Their most recent game on the road was victorious, but they did concede twice.
This week, Middlesbrough hosted Cardiff and walked away with three much needed points. Cardiff looked more threatening in the first half, but Carrick’s side came out at half time with a completely different mindset. Boro created four chances, registered two XG and eventually won the game 2-0 with Isaiah Jones and Emmanuel Latte Lath netting.
Both teams are in great form and either side could pick up three points. Both teams will likely net but I predict that Middlesbrough will attempt to frustrate the youthful Sunderland side. The tie is almost too close to call.
The final prediction is Sunderland 1-1 Middlesbrough.