Sky Sports EFL pundit David Prutton has suggested that Sheffield Wednesday have to win against Middlesbrough at the Riverside to keep their hopes of survival alive but expects them to only manage a point.
Middlesbrough head into the game with little other than pride to play for, with their hopes of gate-crashing the play-offs well and truly over now. Neil Warnock’s side did deliver a much-improved performance in their win at Rotherham United in midweek. It was a result that actually massively helped the Owls.
Warnock remarked after their win at his former club Rotherham that he would ensure his players were extra motivated for the Sheffield Wednesday clash as he aims to do his former club a favour. That should mean that there will be no thoughts of the beach yet amongst the Boro squad who will aim to make it back-to-back wins.
Sheffield Wednesday, meanwhile, continue to give themselves a glimmer of hope of survival and they secured a vital 1-0 win against Blackburn Rovers in midweek to move themselves to within four points of safety. However, considering Rotherham’s games in hand the Owls might need to win all of their remaining games to have a chance of beating the drop.
Darren Moore’s side will have to show that they can cope with the pressure that is on them at the moment and try and relax and just take it one game at a time. However, were they to fail to win here you would have to think that any chance they had to survive the drop would have gone.
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Making his latest round of predictions for Sky Sports, Prutton suggested that the Owls have to win to keep their survival hopes surviving another day. However, he also believes that Middlesbrough will have extra motivation against them and will hold them to a 1-1 draw.
He wrote: “On paper, Middlesbrough have nothing left to play for this season, but you saw the glint in Neil Warnock’s eye on Wednesday night as he spoke about the possibility of relegating Sheffield Wednesday. He will have his side right up for this one.
“It’s such a sad position that Wednesday find themselves in. They still have the hope of survival after a big win in midweek, and a win here is essential to guarantee they live to fight another die. I don’t think they will win, but I don’t think they’ll lose either.”
Prutton is right to probably suggest that Sheffield Wednesday have reached last chance saloon now and given themselves their last chance to survive with their mid-week win. The Owls still face a massive task and they might need to win all three of their remaining games. Therefore, dropping any points against Middlesbrough could be the final blow for their survival hopes.
In normal circumstances, a trip to a Middlesbrough side with nothing to play for would look like a potentially kind fixture to have been handed. However, this is a Boro side under Warnock who will be determined to get one over the Owls. That makes it a very daunting prospect for them and it is going to be a very nervy 90 minutes for Moore’s side.
Were they to win here and other results go their way, the Owls could be right back in with a chance of staying up. That has to be their thoughts heading into the game. Moore will know that he has to get his side set up just right if they are to overcome this Middlesbrough team.