North-east rivals face off at the Riverside on Wednesday night with very little to play for. Middlesbrough – 19th in the table – are nine points from safety with only five games remaining. Sunderland have one more game to play but find themselves 12 points adrift and rooted to the bottom of the league.
The Black Cats have cheated relegation season after season, but they seemed doomed to relegation this term under David Moyes. Middlesbrough, in their first season back in the Premier League, began well but have faded dramatically. Their poor run of form culminated in the departure of manager Aitor Karanka in March.
Middlesbrough boss Steve Agnew will have to find a replacement for Gastón Ramirez following his red card during Boro’s 4-0 humbling at Bournemouth. Spanish winger Adama Traore could be in line for a start despite failing to perform on a consistent basis. For Sunderland, Paddy McNair, Jan Kirchhoff and Duncan Watmore remained sidelined.
What time does it start?
Middlesbrough vs Sunderland kicks off at 19:45
Where can I watch it?
The match will not be shown live. Highlights will be shown at 02:00 on Sky Sports 1.
It’s a big game for…
Adama Traore: Should Traore be restored to the Middlesbrough starting XI, he will need to prove he can influence games positively in the Premier League. Statistically the best dribbler in Europe, Traore often fails to deliver when it matters. However, he undoubtedly has potential having been nurtured in the famous Barcelona academy.
Middlesbrough’s only win in their last 10 north-east Derbies came against Sunderland. Cristhian Stuani scored twice in August against Sunderland to secure a 2-1 victory to condemn David Moyes to defeat on his home debut.
Middlesbrough signalled their intent before the 1996/97 season with multi-million pound deals for Emerson and Fabrizio Ravanelli. In October 1996, Middlesbrough took on Sunderland at Roker Park in the last ever Tees-Wear derby at that stadium. Brazilian Emerson made sure it was a game to remember with a stunning strike from outside the area.
Player to watch…
Wahbi Khazri: Khazri made his first start for the Black Cats in seven months against West Ham last Saturday and celebrated his return to the line-up by scoring directly from a corner. The Tunisian was an influential figure for Sunderland last season and could prove to be the difference in the derby.
Sunderland 1(van Aanholt) Middlesbrough 2(Stuani x2), Premier League August 2016
Sunderland 0 Middlesbrough 1 (McDonald), League Cup October 2012
Middlesbrough 1 (Jutkiewicz) Sunderland 2 (Colback, Sessegnon), FA Cup February 2012
Middlesbrough to win: 6/5
Sunderland to win: 49/20
(Odds provided by 888 Sport)