Middlesbrough v Oxford United Betting Tips: League One side not be discounted

15:00/Feb 18

Football writer Thomas Giles previews the upcoming FA Cup match between Middlesbrough and Oxford United.

This FA Cup team is between two clubs who are 38 places apart in the Football League system yet have different atmospheres surrounding them at present. Premier League Middlesbrough seem to be falling apart at the seams whilst League One Oxford United seem to fully focused.

Middlesbrough are currently on a wretched run in the Premier League and have not won in their last eight league matches, putting them in a precarious 16th position and just two points above the drop-zone. This has led to Aitor Karanka criticising virtually everybody at the club from the fans to the chairman.

However, Karanka must take some of the blame himself for his side’s dismal run. Boro seem to have little ambition going forward and it is no surprise that they are the league’s lowest scorers with a pathetic 19 in 25 games. They are pretty good defensively and have the fourth-best defensive record in the league with just 27 conceded – better than Champions League contenders Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool. However, if you are not going to score goals, there is almost no point in being defensively sound.

As we have seen with Burnley this season, newly-promoted sides need to establish a fortress at home to have a chance of survival. Unfortunately for Karanka’s men they have failed to pick up enough points at home (13 from 13 games) and this hardly looks like changing in the current circumstances.

Oxford’s fantastic winning run of five straight wins came to an end in midweek against Southend United which means the U’s are now seven points off the play-offs. However, considering they earned promotion last season, they are still doing fantastically well. Furthermore, they have knocked out two Championship sides in the FA Cup this season.

Michael Appleton’s side have adjusted to League One seamlessly following their promotion last year, particularly at the back where his side have conceded only 33 goals in 30 matches – a better record than top of the table Sheffield United. Offensively they are not fantastic but they have enough about them to threaten other teams – unlike Saturday’s opponents Middlesbrough.

The U’s have been brilliant on their travels lately with just one defeat in all competitions since 26th November 2016, winning six of their last nine matches away from the Kassam Stadium.

With Middlesbrough likely to field a weakened side in order to focus on the Premier League as well as the poisonous atmosphere at the Riverside Stadium at the moment, I think Oxford can pull off a shock here. The pressure is all on the home side and I am not sure they will be able to handle that. Backing Oxford on the ‘Double Chance’ market at an eye catching 7/4 is certainly worth a go.

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Single: Lost
Middlesbrough v Oxford United
18.02.2017 15:00 \B\S\T
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