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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Wolves knocking on the Premier League door

Tough for Middlesbrough against Championship leaders

Wolves have had plenty to celebrate this season
1 of 1

Sky Bet Championship 
Sky Sports Football, 5.30pm Friday

Middlesbrough were supposed to be the team to beat in the Sky Bet Championship this season but Wolves have proved themselves to be a class apart and can highlight that superiority at the Riverside.

It's a matter of when not if Wolves win promotion to the Premier League, their impressive tally of 82 points from 38 matches tells only part of the story with Wolves possibly idling in front following a run of just three wins in the last seven matches.

That sequence includes defeats at Fulham and Aston Villa so there will be hope for Boro, but between those losses Wolves won 3-0 at Leeds and their form needs to be be taken in the context of a whole season rather than the odd wobble.

Some Championship clubs have been unhappy with the way Wolves have gone about building such a strong second-tier side with Ruben Neves and his teammates looking way too good for this level.

Nuno has knitted it together fantastically well - you can have money and contacts but over a long campaign plenty of coaches of lesser ability would still have failed.

Wolves have lost only six matches all season and their goal difference of plus 36 is comfortably the best. Indeed it is double Middlesbrough's figure and the ante-post favourites have fallen way short of those summer expectations.

It's all about securing a playoff spot now for sixth-placed Middlesbrough and replacing Garry Monk with Tony Pulis seems to have been a worthwhile change for the Teessiders.

Boro are unbeaten in six games, scoring three goals on four of those occasions, and two players are causing most of the damage.

Patrick Bamford looks rejuvenated under Pulis and has seven goals in his last six games while inconsistent but speedy winger Adama Traore is having a hot spell.

However, Boro were outplayed for large periods of their 1-1 draw with Brentford last time out and they are yet to score in four home defeats to the teams currently above them in table.

Wolves draw no bet
1pt 4-5 general

Match odds

Sky Bet Championship standings

Team news
Rudy Gestede is sidelined for the hosts and Fabio lacks match fitness.

Diogo Jota is ruled out.

Key stat
Sixth-placed Middlesbrough have scored one goal in eight games against the teams currently above them in the table.

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Wolves have lost only six matches all season and their goal difference of plus 36 is comfortably the best
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