Two in-form teams go head-to-head in the FA Cup third round on Saturday as Middlesbrough host Brighton at the Riverside.
Boro have become a changed outfit since former Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick took charge of the Championship club, helping the north-east outfit up to fifth place in the table.
Brighton continue to shine with their new manager Roberto De Zerbi, but the Seagulls’ time in the FA Cup this season might well be short-lived after a long trip north on Saturday.
Middlesbrough vs Brighton Betting Tips
Carrick will have some selection dilemmas to address ahead of this third round encounter, with his side currently flying in the Championship.
A run of six wins in their last seven games has seen morale lifted at the Riverside and hopes are rising on a possible imminent return to the Premier League.
Fringe players could well be given a chance to impress by Carrick, with Paddy McNair one defender in line for more action after playing his first competitive minutes under the new manager on Monday at Birmingham City.
Marc Bola also featured in the win at St Andrew’s off the bench and could feature against the Seagulls.
As for Brighton, De Zerbi is also likely to shuffle his pack after his side’s 4-1 win over Everton took them up to eighth place in the Premier League table.
Striker Danny Welbeck, midfielder Jakub Moder and defender Adam Webster remain sidelined, but De Zerbi should have a largely healthy squad to choose from.
Double Chance – Middlesbrough or draw @ 5/4
Boro proved themselves to be one of the big stories in the FA Cup last season, as they got the better of Manchester United at Old Trafford and Tottenham Hotspur at the Riverside.
Now with a squad brimming with confidence after their recent Championship endeavours, Boro might well fancy their chances of causing another cup upset against another Premier League side.
De Zerbi has a real balancing act to get right with his squad selection and if he’s slightly off, the Seagulls might well be heading for an early exit.
Half-Time Correct Score 0-0 @ 9/5
As Middlesbrough did in their last home FA Cup victory against Spurs, they will be eager to keep things tight throughout the game.
Boro and Spurs were goalless at half-time and full-time in that encounter, before Josh Coburn’s goal in extra-time sent the Teessiders through.
Expect Carrick to follow suit and keep things tight in the first 45 minutes, before potentially having a go at Brighton in the second half.
The 9/5 for a goalless draw at half-time looks to be good value in this intriguing encounter at the Riverside this weekend.
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