Here’s why Middlesbrough’s season could be all over by Easter
It’s a statistic that has been overlooked this week, but thanks to the resurgence of Swansea, Sunderland and Hull, Middlesbrough have won the fewest matches in this season’s Premier League.
Aitor Karanka’s men have secured just four victories this season, and only a league-high nine draws is keeping the Reds above the drop zone.
And of that quartet of wins the most recent came before Christmas, and three of them came against sides who sit in the bottom four.
It’s clear where the problems lie too. Their 27 goals conceded is one of the best in the league – better than three sides in the top five – but their 19 goals scored is by far the lowest in the top-tier.
We make Boro 13/10 to go down, although each of Crystal Palace, Hull and Sunderland are odds-on for the drop.
But whoever ends up in the Championship next season, it’s likely that Boro’s fate will be decided by Easter.
That’s because Karanka’s men must play each of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool in their last six fixtures following the Christian holiday. And Boro’s chances of clawing back points against that quartet look slim.
That hideous run begins on April 15.
But before that, Boro have an almighty chance to secure their future in the Prem.
Of their next eight games, they play almost all of their relegation rivals, including a derby with Sunderland plus crunch clashes with Palace, Hull and Swansea.
Throw in a home tie with poor-travelling Burnley before Easter, and it’s clear that the Riverside outfit must get the job done before April’s double Bank Holiday.
It gives the club five excellent opportunities from their next eight games to haul themselves out of trouble.
But it’s worth noting, that if the Teessiders are still in trouble when Arsenal visit in mid-April, then Boro really are up against it.
For now, Karanka will be hoping to guide his men to victory this weekend, where Everton make the trip to the north-east.
The Toffees are in fine form right now however, and we make them 21/20 favourites to add to Boro’s relegation woes.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing