Sunderland v Middlesbrough
FA Cup 4th Round
Sunday 29th January
Sunday sees the return of the Tees-Wear derby, which has laid dormant for more than three years. Middlesbrough travel to Sunderland with the hope of dumping their more illustrious rivals out of this year’s FA Cup.
The Black Cats will go into the game on a brilliant run of form that has seen them win six of their last nine games since Martin O’Neill took over in early December. They go into the match without Nicklas Bendtner who has been ruled out with a broken nose whilst Jack Colback is also a doubt, however they are boosted by the news that Fraizer Campbell is available after more than nine months on the sidelines.
The Teessiders have been in their worst run of form this season, losing three of their last four games and conceding 8 goals. They will again be without the injured Nicky Bailey, Merouane Zemmama and Bart Ogbeche whilst Julio Arca and Kevin Thomson begin their suspensions after receiving red cards in last weeks disappointing loss to Coventry. Boro may be able to welcome Jason Steele back into the squad after missing the last two games with a thigh injury. Lukas Jutkiewicz is in line for his full debut after a gentleman’s agreement prevented him from playing against his old club last weekend.
All the indications suggest Sunderland should win this game with ease but, it’s a derby, it’s the FA Cup and form goes out the window. The pressure is off Boro, no one expects them to win and they can attack the Mackems without fear. I may be biased but I honestly believe Boro can triumph and I’m predicting a 2-1 win with goals from Robson and new boy Jutkiewicz. I will be there on Sunday with 2,999 other Boro fans hopefully cheering on the lads to a first derby win since 2006.
Predicted line ups
Bardsley, O’Shea, Brown, Richardson
Larsson, Cattermole (c), Vaughan, McClean
McMahon, Bates (c), McManus, Bennett
Haroun, R. Williams, Smallwood, Robson