As Middlesbrough prepare for the replay against Sunderland in the FA Cup, not much has changed in the form of the two teams. The Black Cats, despite the minor blip against their Tees-Wear rivals, have continued their fine form under O’Neil by thrashing Norwich at home then sneaking a win at one of the toughest grounds in the country, the Britannia Stadium against Stoke. In contrast, the Boro have continued their winless year, which has seen them slip from a position challenging for automatic promotion down and now they are clinging onto a playoff place.
As I pointed out in my last preview of the previous fixture, the form of the two teams bears little relevance when it comes to a one-off cup tie. Although the fact that the Black Cats are the form team in the Premiership and Mowbray’s boys haven’t fared well in front of their own fans will play a factor.
Sunderland have a host of injury problems to contend with as well as both their loan signings, Bridge and Kyrgiakos, being ineligible. Middlesbrough also have woes of their own as Robson, the scorer of the last game’s wonder goal, is doubtful and McDonald is definitely out but talismanic midfielder; the good news is Arca is back from suspension.