CHAMPIONSHIP specialist Ross Casey (@RossCasey24) shares his verdict from Friday’s early evening top six contest as top of the table Wolves travel to Middlesbrough.
Middlesbrough v Wolves | Friday 30th March 2018, 17:30 | Sky Sports
When Tony Pulis took over at the Riverside Stadium, the club were outside the playoffs, but they now sit in the sixth and final spot, with the hunting pack all gunning for them.
They have done that of late in very un-Pulis like fashion as they have been banging in the goals left, right and centre with Patrick Bamford and Adama Traore in particular showing their best form under his helm.
Boro have won each of their last four home matches and scored 11 goals in the process, although Hull, Reading, Leeds and Barnsley all offer a lot less of a threat than Wolves will on Friday night, Boro will certainly take confidence from their recent home form – as well as the fact they have lost just one in their last eight home and away.
Wolves sit in first place in the Championship, but they are being pushed the whole way by Cardiff. If The Bluebirds win their game in hand, they will be just three points behind the big spending Molineux side and that will be spurring them on in their ambition to be crowned champions.
Whilst Wolves have won three of their last four games, there is a bit of a concern about their away form for anyone backing them here. They have won just three of their last nine on the road in all competitions, including a last gasp one over Bristol City and were destroyed 4-1 by Aston Villa in their last Championship away game.
Wolves have conceded in six of their last nine on the road too, conceding 12 in total, so Boro may well fancy their new found attacking instincts to cause their defence some problems.
The betting angle
I’m expecting Boro to have spent their international break focusing on set-pieces. Everyone knows how well Tony Pulis can organise teams from them and up to this point, Middlesbrough haven’t utilised the likes of Daniel Ayala, Rudy Gestede and Ben Gibson’s height too brilliantly.
However, some meticulous work on the training ground over the past two weeks could well change that, so I think Middlesbrough could be even better for having the break and look value at 52/25 to win here with Marathon looks value.
Middlesbrough’s new attacking influence means that you now expect The Smoggies to get on the scoresheet against anyone in this division – including top of the league Wolves, who have kept just two clean sheets in their last eight games.