Middlesbrough v Leeds United Betting Tips & Predictions – Saturday 9th February 2019

Leeds will be hoping to bounce back straight away from last weekend’s disappointment by returning to the winning path this Saturday. By losing to Norwich, the Peacocks missed out of the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the Championship to six points. Instead they moved down to second and are in danger of being pushed out of the automatic promotion places having dropped a number of points over the last month or so.

Middlesbrough’s place in the play-off spots is virtually safe whatever happens this weekend but that’s not to say that this match isn’t a hugely important one. Not only would beating a side like Leeds provide a huge morale boost but it would put Boro back in the race for a top two finish. On top of that, whilst not the most local of derbies, this remains, technically at least, a Yorkshire derby, and there is certainly no love lost between the teams.

Top Tips

Leeds United to Win @ 7/4

Under 2.5 Goals @ 4/6

Odds correct at time of writing but may have changed since. Check site for latest prices.

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Middlesbrough News: Sorry Boro dumped out of cup

Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium

A disappointed Tony Pulis watched on painfully as his side were knocked out of the FA cup by League Two outfit Newport County. The Middlesbrough manager said it was men against boys at Rodney Parade as his players were “outfought and outplayed”. Coming just days after a superb win against promotion rivals West Brom, it was surprising to see the visitors play as poorly as they did. To add insult to injury, the defeat means the Teessiders miss out on the exciting prospect of hosting Manchester City in the fifth round. Of course, much as Pulis won’t be happy about the loss, he might not be overly concerned about having his fixture list reduced, nor about having to come up with a tactical plan to try and contain Pep Guardiola’s men.

Big Tests Keep Coming for Boro

The Teessiders have three consecutive league games against major rivals, with this the middle of a tough run of fixtures. After beating the Baggies last time out they are currently fifth, level on points with WBA. After this test with Leeds they face a trip to Sheffield United and if they somehow come through that tricky trio of tests with maximum points they will surely fancy their chances of gaining automatic promotion.

Leeds United News: Berardi closing in on a return

East Stand at Leeds United's Elland raod
John Seb Barber, flickr

It remains to be seen if the decision not to operate on Gaetano Berardi will pay off. The versatile defender tore his hamstring from his bone back in October, leaving Leeds to contemplate whether he should be sent for surgery. Opting against a medical procedure has allowed the 30-year-old to return quicker and he could be back in a couple of weeks. David Price, head of medicine at the club, warned however that by avoiding surgery, there is a heightened chance of the player injuring the same hamstring again. With Leeds having suffered a number of defensive injuries this term they will have to hope the Swiss fullback makes it through to the end of the campaign unscathed.

Football League to consider potential punishment for Bielsa

After news broke that Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa instructed a member of staff to spy on Derby’s training session, 11 clubs wrote to the EFL to make a formal complaint. The controversy stemming from the incident has died down following Bielsa’s apology but he may not be out of the woods just yet. It was revealed that ‘spygate’ would feature on the agenda for Thursday’s Football League board meeting. With absolutely no precedent set for this type of incident, it’s hard to know what kind of punishment, if any, will be discussed.

Leeds Set to Make Changes

Following recent performances, a number of players have come in for criticism from fans and whilst Bielsa won’t be swayed by the terraces, one or two Leeds men have been struggling for form. Patrick Bamford is pressing for a start after his goal last time out, whilst Jack Clarke and Kalvin Phillips may also be in line to come into the XI.

Analysis: Boro will brush themselves off

A humbling cup exit will have surely taken Middlesbrough down a peg or two. Pulis named a strong side at Newport but his men were never at the races. A similar showing against a side of Leeds calibre will see them badly beaten this weekend but you are right to expect them to raise their game. They are not the kind of side to let their heads drop for long, having only suffered back to back defeats on one occasion this season.

Leeds better than form suggests

Leeds come into this game having not drawn a single one of their last 16 matches, a run that shows just how hot and cold the Peacocks can be. Bielsa’s tactics require a lot of running from his men so could their growing inconsistency merely be a result of increased fatigue? The stats say you shouldn’t be too quick to jump to such a conclusion. Their goals for and against numbers are still among the best in the division and there’s real reason to think their recent slump is merely temporary. Also increasing the appeal of a Leeds win (7/4) is the fact Boro have only been able to beat rock bottom Ipswich during their last five league home tests.

Boro not one for the neutrals

Both teams have scored in Leeds’ last five matches on the road but there’s a good chance this run may come to an end this weekend. The Riverside Stadium has been a place starved of goals this season, with no other Championship ground seeing fewer. Pulis is a manager who prefers to grind out results at home, something that has given his men the best defensive home record in the league. This has come at a price however, as the promotion chasing club have scored just 14 times. As the visitors have a great record when it comes to protecting leads, should they strike first, this game will be surely see under 2.5 goals (4/6). The reverse fixture was 0-0 and it’s hard to see this one being hugely different.

Recent Matches

Leeds have been handsomely beaten during their last two visits to the Riverside Stadium so they’ll be hoping for a change in fortunes this time. Scoring goals has been their biggest issue in this fixture with the Peacocks managing just four goals in their last eight meetings with Boro, home and away.

31st August 2018: Leeds United 0 – 0 Middlesbrough

There was plenty of hype ahead of this match as it saw the Championship’s top two sides go head to head. It ended up being quite the forgettable contest though with neither side able to find any sort of rhythm during a physical midfielder battle. Chances to score were few and far between although Luke Ayling did come close for Leeds when seeing his headed effort cleared off the line by Adam Clayton. Leeds pressed but the visitors defended superbly in what was an uneventful, though fascinating, contest.

2nd March 2018: Middlesbrough 3 – 0 Leeds United

Patrick Bamford netted his first ever career hat-trick against the club that would go on to sign him less than four months later. The 24-year-old was a true fox in the box against his future employers with all his three strikes coming from inside the area. At no point did Leeds threaten a comeback with Caleb Ekuban only registering the visitors’ first shot on target 86 minutes in.

19th November 2017: Leeds United 2 – 1 Middlesbrough

Garry Monk’s return to Elland Road was not happy one as his former club took the full share of the spoils. Pablo Hernandez was the main thorn in his side as the Spaniard not only scored the first but also set up Ezgjan Alisoki to extend Leeds’ advantage. Ayling’s foul on Daniel Ayala inside the box did allow Britt Assombalonga to halve the deficit but the home side were able to see the game out reasonably comfortably.

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