Middlesbrough and Sunderland meet in a Tees-Wear Derby at the Riverside Stadium that will have an impact on both the play-off picture and the relegation battle in the Championship.
Boro haven’t yet hit the heights they might have hoped to so far this season, but a third straight win would make their promotion prospects look a little brighter.
Sunderland, meanwhile, sacked manager Simon Grayson less than half an hour after their 3-3 draw with Bolton Wanderers - which extended their winless run to 13 games - with Billy McKinlay and Robbie Stockdale taking charge as joint-caretaker bosses.
The hosts are 13/20 (1.65) with bet365 to take advantage of this instability, having done the double over their neighbours when both clubs were relegated from the Premier League last term, but whilst it is not surprising that they are hotter favourites than any team in the Championship this weekend, value can be found elsewhere.
A draw, which has occurred in 40% of games involving either side, is available at the price of 13/5 (3.60), which implies a 27.8% probability. Of the nine Championship managers appointed this season, including caretakers, four have overseen a victory in their opening game, with only Boro's Garry Monk watching a defeat, so the 9/2 (5.50) on an away win seems appealing.
If Sunderland are victorious, it may be a performance of rear-guard action, so the 8/1 (9.0) on them winning with under 2.5 goals is worth considering, along with the 11/1 (12.0) on a 1-0 triumph; alternatively, the Double Chance: Draw or Sunderland at 13/10 (2.30) reaps a profit if Middlesbrough fail to win.
The Black Cats’ front man Lewis Grabban has five goals in three and finds the net on average once every 110 minutes, the second best record in the division, whilst the home side’s most likely goalscorer is Britt Assombalonga and he can be found at 5/6 (1.83) to score anytime and add to his tally of eight goals in his last 13 games.
Aside from their respective hitmen, both teams have just two players on more than one league goal for the campaign, so a low-scoring game is likely. Under 1.5 goals at 9/4 (3.25) would have landed in 40% of Boro’s games this season, and although Sunderland have shipped 30 in 15, teams typically become more disciplined immediately after a regime change.
However, the price of Sunderland avoiding defeat at 13/10 (2.30) provides us with insurance in a match that should see the visitors respond well to the caretaker bosses and rise to the derby occasion with a competitive performance.