Draw Destined For Championship Table Toppers
Middlesbrough v Derby
A mouth-watering game between Middlesbrough and Derby, two in-form teams at the top of the Championship table, takes place at 12:15 on Saturday…
Middlesbrough’s 5-1 demolition of Millwall last weekend was their first win in four, but they go into this weekend’s game having lost only one of their last 15 Championship fixtures and having not lost at the Riverside Stadium since August.
Former Sunderland midfielder Grant Leadbitter is the club’s top scorer with nine goals this season, while on-loan striker Jelle Vossen broke his duck for the club in some style last Saturday with a 23-minute hat-trick.
At the other end of the pitch Boro’s defence is the strongest in the league having conceded just 15 goals in 20 games, while only three teams in English football have conceded fewer goals this season.
Derby go into the game as league leaders having won six of their last nine league games, but they have, however, lost the other three games in that period. Recent defeats on the road at Leeds and Brentford plus a fortunate win at Watford and narrow victory against strugglers Blackpool make for a not wholly convincing run of results, though.
Chris Martin added another two goals to his tally at the weekend in a 3-0 win over Brighton, taking his tally for the season to 14 league and cup goals. Johnny Russell was also on target to make it five goals in his last seven for the club.
Middlesbrough will be without manager Aitor Karanka on the sidelines this weekend after he admitted to a charge of improper conduct following an altercation after a late Blackburn equaliser two weeks ago. Craig Hignett’s recent departure means that Karanka does not currently have an assistant in place.
Captain Richard Keogh missed last weekend’s game due to a hamstring strain and remains doubtful for this one, but Jamie Ward is back in contention having played the final 15 minutes last weekend following an eight-match lay-off.
Boro won this fixture 1-0 last season thanks to a Nathaniel Chalobah goal, while Chris Martin scored in a 2-1 Derby win in the reverse fixture. The home team has only lost once in the last 11 meetings between these two teams, while three of the last four have featured more than 2.5 goals.
Neither team will be particularly licking their lips at the prospect of this Saturday’s game, but for the winner the prize is a position at the top of the Championship table.
Derby’s recent away record is unflattering, while Boro have drawn three of their last four and we can’t be sure how the manager’s touchline absence will affect the team.
All things considered, it’s the draw at odds of 12/5 that looks the most appealing bet in the Match Odds market.
As the club’s top scorer, Grant Leadbitter features relatively lowly in the betting and at odds of 15/2 to score first represents some value. While the odds of 13/2 on Chris Martin in the same market also stand out.