Tonight sees Middlesbrough travel to Bramall Lane where they’ll take on play-off contenders Sheffield United in a crucial six-pointer.
Sheffield United defender, Richard Stearman remains absent with a hamstring problem, as does Blades goalkeeper and ex Middlesbrough loanee Jamal Blackman because of suspension.
Middlesbrough also have a fully-fit squad, apart from long-term absentee Rudy Gestede who still remains out with a broken ankle and it was revealed earlier this week that the Benin international requires more surgery on his ankle, so his return date from injury remains unknown.
Middlesbrough go into this game on the back of a run which sees just one defeat in nine games, Boro lost the only game against Wolves on Good Friday when they were defeated 2-1 by the table toppers.
Heading into this game, Boro won their last game 2-0 against Nottingham Forest.
The game saw the return of former manager Aitor Karanka but it wouldn’t be a happy return for the Spaniard as goals from Daniel Ayala and Stewart Downing sealed a 2-0 victory for the Teessiders.
Sheffield United however lost their last game 3-2 away at Barnsley.
United were leading the game 2-1 thanks to goals from John Fleck and their top goalscorer, Leon Clark but they bottled their lead and as goals from Oliver McBurnie and Tom Bradshaw sealed the win for Barnsley and left the Blades with just one win in their last seven games.
Middlesbrough are currently four point ahead of Sheffield United as they sit in sixth place whereas the Blades are currently in ninth position so Chris Wilder’s side need a win tonight if they are to have any chance of getting the play-offs.
- Boro have lost just one of their last nine Championship games (W5 D3), with that defeat coming at home to league leaders Wolves (1-2).
- Billy Sharp’s 12 goals have been worth 17 points to his team this season, more than any other player in the Championship.
Last Time Out – Middlesbrough 1-0 Sheffield United
A Rudy Gestede first-half header gave Garry Monk’s Middlesbrough all three points at home as they were 1-0 winners against newly promoted Sheffield United.
Gestede looped the ball over goalkeeper ex Boro loanee Jamal Blackman after the Blades had failed to clear Patrick Bamford’s lofted ball into the penalty area.
The former Aston Villa man hit the post with another header before half-time as Boro dominated the first half.
Sheffield United had a goal disallowed in stoppage time for offside as Boro held on.
I can’t really tell how this game is going to go.
Middlesbrough have a poor record against the top half sides having only beaten Sheffield United (1-0 H) and Preston (3-2 A) all season.
I think Sheffield United will be up for this game but their attacking intent could be their own downfall as when they go one-nil up, they don’t sit back but instead carry on going all out attack.
I can’t see how today’s game is going to go so I’m going to be boring and say a draw!
Prediction: Sheffield UTD 2-2 Middlesbrough
Result: Sheffield UTD 2-1 Middlesbrough
Thanks for reading,
By Jake Self