Middlesbrough and Coventry City square off on Saturday afternoon with just two points separating the clubs in the Championship standings.
The teams currently occupy eighth and ninth position respectively, although the visitors possess a game in hand ahead of their trip to the Riverside Stadium.
Having not suffered defeat since the end of November, it was assumed in some quarters that Middlesbrough going to promotion rivals Blackburn Rovers and continuing their good form was a foregone conclusion.
However, the break in Championship action has seemingly done Chris Wilder’s team no favours as they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at Ewood Park.
With a much-changed side having featured in the FA Cup earlier this month, Boro’s first-string have played just two second tier games since the turn of the year, while an array of fresh faces have also come through the door.
Naturally, there will be a bedding-in period of some kind, but Wilder needs his side to rediscover their previous momentum having also struggled to see off Reading in the previous game.
On the plus side, Boro head into this contest as the only team in the division to currently be on a four-match winning streak on home territory.
Coventry City’s Victor Gyokeres with Martyn Waghorn after the match on January 25, 2022© Reuters
Nevertheless, they welcome a Coventry side to the Riverside Stadium who have avoided defeat in their last five Championship fixtures on the road, by far their best run of the campaign.
That return has been in sharp contrast to their overall form in the second tier, but their only two wins in nine matches have both come in the last three outings.
Having slipped towards the mid-table spots, Mark Robins’s team desperately needed all three points against Stoke City – a direct rival for the playoffs – on Tuesday night.
A 1-0 triumph was achieved courtesy of a goal from Viktor Gyokeres, who finally ended a near-four-month wait for his 10th Championship goal of the season.