Boro v Wolves Preview
Following good back-to-back victories at the end of February, Middlesbrough looked as though they were moving in the right direction once more.
Five goals scored, with just one in reply against Cardiff and Fulham, saw Boro getting back to something like their best.
However, having defeated Fulham on the road at the weekend, thanks to goals by Albert Adomah and Grant Leadbitter, the result at Blackburn on Tuesday was disappointing. Two second half goals from the home team, was enough for Blackburn to claim maximum points and leave Boro 1 point off top spot, with a game in hand.
Going in to the home match with Wolves on Friday night, there appears to be three other teams in the battle for automatic promotion. They are, Burnley, Hull City and Brighton and Hove Albion. While Derby County can not be ruled out, it would take a great run by them and for two teams above them to drop away, if they are to challenge.
It's been just two wins from the last eight Championship matches for Boro and although the defeat at Blackburn will not define the season, the team must bounce back immediately with three points against Wolves. Kenny Jackett's team have won only one of their last seven Championship matches, although the victory did come in their last match, at home against Derby County. Recent away form has been poor and Wolves have have failed to win a single away match in the Championship since their 1-0 victory over Brighton on New Year's Day. Wolves have scored a decent amount of goals this season but it's defensively where they have struggled, conceding 47goals in 34 games, leaving them on a minus goal difference, despite being 13th in the Championship.
Wolves have kept just one clean sheet in their last nine Championship matches and this will be music to the ears of Boro striker, Jordan Rhodes. It's now four appearances without a goal for the transfer window signing and it's fair to say, the Scot has not had the impact fans were hoping for. In fact, if you look back, Rhodes has only scored twice in his last 16 Championship matches and really needs to turn his form around.
The fixtures are coming thick and fast and Aitor Karanka has a number of options available to him, in terms of team selection. There may be a couple of changes from the team which lost at Blackburn, just to freshen things up more than anything else. Expect Boro to come out of the blocks fast, especially after Karanka's comments in mid-week. The Spaniard was less than impressed with the desire shown by his team and will hope to see a reaction come Friday night.