Midweek saw Middlesbrough suffer a shock FA Cup defeat at League Two Newport County. They are fifth in the Championship but can close in on the top two with a home win over second-placed Leeds United. A win for Boro will take them to within four points of their opponents.
The dreams that fifth-placed Middlesbrough had of a home FA Cup tie against Manchester City faded away on Tuesday. For the second time this season, Boro lost a cup game to a team from a lower-league losing 2-0 at Newport County.
With their cup exploits (and disasters) out of the way, Middlesbrough can now concentrate on winning promotion back to the English Premier League. You can get odds of 9/4 (3.25) at Betfair on a successful promotion this season.
Their cup form may be distinctly dodgy but Middlesbrough come into this match on a five-game unbeaten league run. That nearly ended last weekend though when they traveled to third-placed West Bromwich Albion and found themselves 2-1 down with only a quarter of an hour left to play. Britt Assombalonga rescued the day with two goals in eight minutes to grab all three points.
Those goals gave Boro their seventh away league win of the season but they are still seven points adrift of the two automatic promotion places. A win over Leeds will do wonders for their hopes of a top-two finish. You can get odds of 17/10 (2.7) at Paddy Power on a Middlesbrough win in this match.
Failure to win though and even worse a defeat, will leave them with just the play-offs to aim for. They start the weekend just three points above seventh-placed Derby County.
Leeds United start the weekend in second place, only behind leaders Norwich City on goal difference. They are 15/8 (2.87) at Betway to win the Championship and 4/6 (1.66) at Betfred to finally get the promotion they have been chasing for so long.
United fans are used to their team working their way into a good position, only to blow it. There must be fears of that happening again this season after a run of four losses in their last six league games.
Last weekend saw them drop to second place after a 3-1 home loss to second-placed Norwich City. By the time this game begins they could be out of the top two if Sheffield United can win at Aston Villa on Friday evening. If United don’t win, then a win at Boro could see Leeds as much as six points clear with a win here. The odds on a Leeds win are 7/4 (2.75) at BoyleSports.
Head to Head
Leeds United have only won one of their last five games against Middlesbrough. The last two Boro home games against Leeds have ended in 3-0 home wins.
Middlesbrough will recall the players left out for the FA Cup defeat at Newport County.
Both Teams to Score
The last four Middlesbrough league games have seen both teams score. That’s looking a good bet for this game as four of the last five Leeds away games have seen both sides hit the back of the net. You can get odds of 5/6 (1.83) at Bet365 on both Boro and Leeds scoring.
Leeds on the Attack
It’s well worth having a bet on Leeds United to score in this match. They have scored in each and every one of their away league games this season. It’s 4/11 (1.36) at William Hill that Leeds score in this match. The odds on a Middlesbrough clean sheet are 2/1 (3.0) at SkyBet.
Both teams have had bad results in their last outings. Middlesbrough know the importance of getting back into winning ways after that cup exit. They struggle for consistency and have only won two successive league games in August and November. Leeds United haven’t started panicking yet over their form but another defeat might change that. A bet on a draw with both teams scoring looks good here. That’s available at 7/2 (4.5) at BetVictor.