The final fixtures of this weekend are upon us with Middlesbrough hosting Hull City in the Premier League whilst Oldham head to Lincoln City hoping to avoid a cupset in the FA Cup.
Middlesbrough vs Hull (8:00pm KO on Sky Sports 1)
This match is a must win for both sides as they fight to avoid the drop. Middlesbrough will come into this clash in a buoyant mood after getting a draw at Leicester last weekend, having led twice in that match.
Their defensive record is one of the league’s best and will be looking to make the Riverside a fortress when hosting teams, who are around them in the table. With Daniel Ayala back, Aitor Karanka will have decisions to make about his defence given how impressive Boro are when Ayala and Gibson are playing in the centre of defence together.
Up front, the midfielders will need to push forward with the ball and attack before passing the ball to Negredo if they want to get at least one goal.
Hull will however be looking to build on their midweek victory over Newcastle. Their lack of attacking options will however hamper their efforts with 19 year old Jarrod Bowen likely to come into the Tigers side. This could play into Boro’s hands if they can make life tough for the young player because the pressure of a first league start will surely start eating away at him, if he fails to create chances early on.
Mike Phelan will be relieved to have Ryan Mason and Sam Clucas back to help out in midfield going forwards but they are going to need all the luck they can get because Hull haven’t won any Premier League matches on a Monday night.
I am expecting Middlesbrough to pick up where they left off against Chelsea, a fortnight ago and really get something from this game. Hull will be lucky to not concede two goals given their injury list.
Failure to beat Hull could put pressure on Karanka as we enter the sacking season. You can discover more on whether Karanka is the man to keep Boro up by clicking on https://jamestgregoryblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/is-aitor-karanka-the-right-man-to-keep-middlesbrough-in-the-premier-league/
Prediction: Middlesbrough 2-0 Hull
Lincoln City vs Oldham Athletic (7:45pm KO, BT Sport 1)
League One strugglers, Oldham Athletic will be looking to avoid a shock defeat against a high flying National League side, who haven’t lost since the end of September.
Lincoln will be sniffing a cupset with their squad in fine form and their top scorer, Rhead alone has scored more goals than all of Oldham’s top three goal scorers combined. Their defence has however been erratic, although they managed clean sheets in their last two games.
Oldham will surely be looking for a cup run to inspire a relegation fightback in the Sky Bet League One. They struggle to score and are currently down in 23rd place making the possibility of a shock exit all the more likely. Their defence is just poor, having conceded 21 goals in the league alone. Their goals for record however reads as 11 goals, which is the lowest for any League One club in the table meaning that there has to be a major turnaround against their free scoring opposition tomorrow night.
Given the Latics’ performance so far this season, I can definitely see a hammering from the non league team heading their way if they don’t find the magic touch and nab some goals regardless of how scrappy they are.
Prediction: Lincoln City 3-0 Oldham Athletic