The Tees Wear derby returns for the first time since 2018 as Middlesbrough take on Sunderland tonight at the Riverside Stadium.
The two rivals have endured contrasting starts to the season. Middlesbrough find themselves sat firmly in the relegation zone with only a win being good enough to lift them out of it tonight. Sunderland meanwhile, have enjoyed life upon their return to the Championship and find themselves in 8th.
The Black Cats will be looking to build upon a 3-0 victory against Rotherham last week, whereas Middlesbrough will be looking to turn their fortunes around after a 2-1 loss away at Watford last time out.
I’ve put together a stats pack for tonight’s game covering stats such as goals, shots, corners, and cards. If you’re looking to put together a bet builder, then make sure you have a read.
A number of injuries means that it’s unlikely that Chris Wilder will field anything close to the same side that were beaten by Watford in midweek.
Question marks remain on the fitness of Jonny Howson and Darragh Lenihan, with both being unexpected to feature. This should see Paddy McNair moved into the midfield alongside Alex Mowatt, with Dael fry and Anfernee Dijksteel set to deputise at the back.
Rodrigo Muniz is likely to keep his place in the side after scoring his first goal of the season, with Marcus Forss potentially joining him in replacement of Riley McGree.
Tony Mowbray should name the same team that ran out 3-0 winners against Rotherham last week, barring any late injury concerns.
Continued injury struggles for young centre back Daniel Ballard should see the trio of Cirken, Batth, and O’Nien continue in the backline.
Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms will continue up top given their brilliant start to the season, with new signings Abdoullah Ba, Edouard Michut, and Amad Diallo all expected to start from the bench.
Middlesbrough’s league position of 22nd is perhaps a little surprising when you look into their stats.
12.43 shots per 90 compared to 9.43 shots against, alongside an xG of 1.34 and an xGA of 1.04, are not the stats of a team down in the relegation zone. This would serve to suggest that Middlesbrough really are struggling at the back this season, and that regardless of the quality of chances created by their opponent, they are liable to concede.
An average of 1.71 goals conceded per 90 only further highlights this issue, and eclipses a modest 1.43 goals scored per 90 quite comfortably. Even Middlesbrough’s corner stats suggest that they are able to control games and cause problems on the attack, but something isn’t quite clicking for Wilder’s side.
Sunderland’s stats aren’t too dissimilar to Middlesbrough’s in a couple of areas. The Black Cats only average a shot more per 90 than tonight’s opponents, and their goals scored per 90 stands at 1.57 compared to Boro’s 1.43.
The defence is clearly the standout area here however, and is what separates these two sides. From the 14.00 shots that they face per 90, only 3.86 of them are on target, and having only conceded 1.14 goals per game this season, it’s clear that Sunderland will be a difficult nut to crack for Middlesbrough tonight.
PLayer Shots and Shots on Target
Middlesbrough really have struggled to find their shooting boots this season, and finding the target has proven difficult for a large portion of their squad.
Rodrigo Muniz and Matt Clarke are the only players to feature for Boro this season with at least one shot on target per 90. The pair have only featured twice each this campaign however.
Marcus Forss is certainly worth looking at in the shots department, but it’s worth noting that despite having 2.20 efforts at goal per 90, he has only managed to convert one of these.
Outside of the front pairing of Stewart and Simms, Sunderland players in general have also largely failed to find the target regularly.
Ross Stewart is in fact the only Sunderland player expected to start tonight with greater than 1.00 shots on target per 90. His 1.71 shots on target per 90 and 3.71 shots per 90 make him a constant threat and a player of interest in both markets.
Ellis Simms remains a threat as well, finding the target just shy of once per game with a total of 0.96 shots on target per 90 from 3.25 shots.
Jack Clarke and Corry Evans are the only other expected starters to muster over a shot per 90 this season.
Player Goals and Assists
Boro have shared the goals around this season, with 7 scorers in total. Only Chuba Akpom and Matt Crooks have registered more than one goal so far, and with the former unlikely to feature, there is big pressure on Fulham loanee Rodrigo Muniz to continue from where he left off against Watford.
Matt Crooks’ 4 goal contributions is evidence enough of his ability to cause problems from midfield, whilst Isaiah Jones’ 3 contributions from right wing back mark him as a genuine threat from out wide.
Unlike Boro, Sunderlands goals have largely come from the same 2 players. Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms have combined for 8 of the side’s 11 goals so far, with Scotland International Stewart having looked particularly good.
With 2 goals and 3 assists from wing back, Jack Clarke is another player to keep an eye on.
With 3 cards and 1.29 fouls per 90 this season, Isaiah Jones’ defensive abilities have certainly come under scrutiny. The attacking winger turned wing back remains Middlesbrough’s most carded player this season, and will come under plenty of pressure tonight.
Crooks and Forss are also worth keeping an eye on, with the two making 1.33 and 2.20 fouls per 90 respectively.
The absence of any Boro defenders in this list is interesting, their lack of bite perhaps contributing to their defensive deficiencies this campaign.
Jack Clarke is likely to keep Isaiah Jones on his toes in this game. The wing back has been fouled 1.32 times per 90 and will cause serious problems to a player who isn’t inclined to think defensively.
Dennis Cirken is a player of interest on Sunderland’s left hand side. The centre back will drive forward, and has been fouled 2.00 times per 90. This could cause Isaiah Jones further problems if he isn’t given any support, and may draw the combative Marcus Forss into a number of fouls.
Match-Ups to Watch:
Jones vs Clarke
Forss vs Cirken
Crooks vs Neil
Sunderland have been a good side to back in the cards market this season. Their top 5 players in this metric have all been booked more than once and with Darren Bond dishing out 3.40 cards per game, there is a good chance that Tony Mowbray’s side pick up more cards tonight.
The two outside centre backs in O’Nien and Cirken have received 4 and 2 yellows respectively in their opening 7 games. 1.29 and 1.28 fouls per 90 each is also evident of the aggressive approach that they are taking this season. The pair could well be good for cards again tonight, particularly given the fact that the wing backs supporting them aren’t natural defenders.
The combative Corry Evans and exciting Jack Clarke are also worth keeping an eye on here, having picked up 3 cards each this season.
Isaiah Jones could cause as many problems for Jack Clarke as the Sunderland wing back poses him this evening. Jones is fouled an average of 3.00 times per 90, and his attacking nature is likely to force Clarke to think twice about getting forward.
Paddy McNair and Alex Mowatt are also likely to draw Corry Evans into fouls that he doesn’t want to be making. The pair are fouled a total of 2.55 and 1.16 times per 90 and will definitely pose a threat as they look to drive forward.
Match-Ups to Watch:
Clarke vs Jones
Evans vs Mcnair
O’Nien vs Muniz
That’s it for my Middlesbrough vs Sunderland stats pack. If you’re having a bet on the game tonight then best of luck and please gamble responsibly.