Middlesbrough vs. Sheffield Wednesday / FA Cup – Fixture for Sunday brings us five more matches of the third round of English FA Cup and one of more interesting is between two old rivals from the Football League Championship, Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday. Middlesbrough had finally earned promotion last year to the Premier League where is now positioned two places above the drop zone, while Sheffield after 25 rounds is sixth in the Championship standings, which is the last one that leads to the promotion play-off. Let’s add that last year Middlesbrough won both their head-to-head, while before that Sheffield Wednesday had won three times in a row. Begins: 08.01.2017 – 16:00 CET
All this tells us that difference in quality between the two teams is not so big, regardless that the Boro has significantly reinforce its ranks after moving up to the Premier League, all with an objective to stay there as long as possible. For the time being they are on good way as are positioned two places above the relegation zone in the middle of season, and have four points more than 18th-positioned Sunderland. What is not good is fact that their form went down and they are in negative series of two defeats and one draw.
True, they were defeated both times outside their stadium, by Burnley and Manchester United, while before goalless draw with Leicester at home they had won by highest goal difference this season, when they won Swansea by even 3-0. Right that triumph has reinforced their hope that can retain place in the Premier League, especially as they continue to win points from showdowns with direct competitors in the survival race. Regarding the teams that will play this FA Cup match coach Karanka cannot count on injured defenders Barragan and Husband, and winger Fischer.
Probable lineups Middlesbrough: Guzan – Nsue, Espinosa, Gibson, Friend – Traore, Leadbitter, Forshaw, Downing –Rhodes, Stuani
We have said about Sheffield Wednesday in the introduction that after 25 rounds it occupies sixth place in the Championship, which means they are on good way to reach the promotion play-off, just like last year, although this time they hope that can go all the way to the end. Near the end of May last year they were stopped right at the last step, given they were defeated at Wembley in the great final by Hull 1-0.
However, ambitious management has decided in cooperation with Portuguese coach Carvalhal to keep most of players from previous season and bring several good new players, so it is quite realistic to expect to see the again in the play-off as it is hard to believe that can endanger leading duo Brighton-Newcastle by the end of regular season, which have at the moment 12 and 10 points more, respectively. After three consecutive wins Sheffield had drew two times in a row and consequently we expect many new names in the starting line-up for this FA Cup match. Due to injuries still out of action are defender Emanuelson, midfielders Abdi and Matias, and forwards Buckley and Hooper.
Probable lineups Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood – Palmer, Lees, Loovens, Pudil – Wallace, Jones, Hutchinson, Reach – Lucas Joao, Nuhiu
Middlesbrough – Sheffield Wednesday PICK
In this duel of two old rivals from the Championship we certainly give advantage to current member of the Premier League Middlesbrough, mostly because of fact they have stronger team than Sheffield Wednesday and on top of it they will play at home, where they lost just once in last four matches.
Pick: Middlesbrough wins
Odds: 1.91 at bet365 (down to 1.83 can be played)