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Roker Round-Table: Our writers predict what might happen today between Sunderland & Boro

Do any of our writers fancy Sunderland to snatch an unfamiliar victory on Teesside this afternoon?

Middlesbrough v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Gav - @Gav1879

As much as I really think we could do without this cup tie when we’re in such a precarious league position, I’m looking forward to seeing how a couple of new faces fare in such a big game.

Elliot Embleton will more than likely play some part, as will Joel Asoro. Could Tom Beadling maybe find himself as part of our back three? That’d be canny.

What will be, will be. If we win, great - I’m going down for the match and I’d love nothing more than to celebrate a victory. But if we lose having given a handful of youngsters a chance to impress, I won’t worry too much either.

I actually fancy us to win. Why not? It’s about time we did at the Riverside.

Boro 1-2 Sunderland

Sunderland Training Session
It’s time for the young boys to make their mark.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Connor Bromley - @ConnorBromley

Well well well... our second visit to the smog-engulfed wasteland that’s otherwise known as Middlesbrough in just over two months.

The Footballing Gods have given our boys a chance to rectify their half-hearted performance at the Riverside in November - though I find it highly unlikely that we will get anything less than a humbling.

Since that defeat at the start of November both teams have hired new bosses, both of whom prefer completely different styles of play to their predecessors, and it would be fair to say that both sides are in transition.

The difference is that Boro have a strong squad that would perhaps be capable of competing in the Premier League with a couple of additions, whilst we have a squad essentially made up of veterans, has-beens and unproven youngsters.

Boro should easily win this weekend, and I do fancy them - which would be a real shame since we have over 4,000 people attending the game in yet another away day sell out, despite being bottom of the Championship.

Boro 3-0 Sunderland

Middlesbrough v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Sunderland have a chance to redeem themselves after a poor display v Boro in November
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

James Nickels - @JamesNickels

Firstly, a few numbers; 24th in the Championship, a dozen injuries to first-team players, 4 losses in a row against Boro, 4 wins in 13 games at the Riverside, 4 wins all season, 0 transfer funds.

Looking bleak right? Well it is, and if we’re gonna get out of this it’ll be long-term and largely dependent upon a slight miracle from Chris Coleman - and he needs our backing.

We can look at the FA Cup one of two ways this season; our salvation, as the cup run will drag us out of the mud and our league form will follow just like our Great Escape in 2014, or on the other hand; as a unnecessary obstruction which we should bypass in order for an injury-ravaged side to gain some much needed rest late on in a rigorous Championship fixture list.

Either road would make sense, but personally, I think we need to take this game by the scruff of the neck and put out our strongest side possible in order to gain some much-needed momentum and confidence among both the club and crucially, the fanbase.

Boro are a physical side brimming with both power and pace, and played to it under Garry Monk. Tony Pulis is a manager who salivates at physical specimens and plainly prefers height over technical ability, thus the pair are a match made in heaven, and a hellish counterpart for a Sunderland side already lacking in both before the injury troubles are taken into account. I’d expect a low-scoring, drab affair and our chances will be wholly dependent upon how much Pulis rotates his side. He has a history of doing so for cup competitions, but may not do so having only taken charge of two games.

If he rotates his pack, I’d hope for a 1-0 away win. However, considering all the facts above, I think it’ll be simply anther routine 1-0 Boro victory in the Tees-Wear Derby.

Boro 1-0 Sunderland

2018 EFL Championship Football Preston v Middlesbrough Jan 1st
Could a narrow loss to Pulis’ brand of anti-football be on the cards?
Photo by Alan Martin/Action Plus via Getty Images

Mark Carrick - @Carrima

It’s the FA Cup Third Round. It’s a chance to take a break from the stress and strains of the league and perhaps tinker a little with the side. Yet how Coleman can do that given we have 11 fit senior pros (and 2 of those are keepers) is a worry.

Rather than seeing this fixture as an unnecessary distraction or a game we could do without, I see it as giving Coleman the perfect chance to play some of the Academy lads and have a ‘free roll’ of the dice. We perhaps need to rest one or two of the seniors to avoid further injuries - ease one or two back - but overall we could see what shape the youngsters are in.

Ellis Short seems content to sit on his hands and not invest. Playing the kids might have the positive result of finding a gem or two for Coleman, in the absence of funds from our mega-rich owner, or bring a stark reminder to Bain that he needs to have a serious word.

We’re playing a team in our own division, with issues of their own and undergoing their own transition to a new manager. A local side from the North-East to boot. This is a decent litmus-test game.

I’m not convinced we’ll win, but I suspect there will be a few with a point to prove and Coleman will use that in the build-up. Let’s hope they take the chance.

Boro 1-1 Sunderland

Sunderland Training Session
Time for Ethan Robson to get a chance?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Graham - @AsylumDoors

I struggle to see how we get a result out of this one, what with so many injuries. I would expect a few of the youngsters to get game time, but ultimately I think ‘Boro will have too much for them - and so they should, with the money they spent in the summer!

It would be nice to see the likes of Elliot Embleton and Joel Asoro get starts, and I’d be looking more at this game as a chance to give them first team experience to help us in the league, rather than worrying about the result.

Boro 2-0 Sunderland

Sunderland Training Session
Asoro and Maja in?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Alex - @AlexRokerReport

Ah, fantastic, we’re heading down to the Riverside of all places to get our threadbare squad suffocated by Tony Pulis and his tactical airlock.

This game just feels like a write-off to me. Given the peril of our current situation I’d much rather we got out of this competition to focus on staying in the league - as I fear that the extra games we’ll get from any cup ties and subsequent replays will give our injury-prone players more opportunities to get themselves crocked.

I’m completely fine with us fielding a team consisting primarily of young lads who give a spirited performance and ultimately lose - which is exactly what I think will happen.

Boro 3-1 Sunderland