Blackburn Rovers play host to Middlesbrough on Monday evening looking to get back to winning ways in the Championship promotion race.
However, while a seven-point gap separates these two clubs, Boro have a game in hand, meaning that victory at Ewood Park will move them into contention for the top three.
Blackburn reached a point during December where it appeared that they could conquer any team at the second tier having posted five successive wins and clean sheets.
While a subsequent return of seven points from four games should not be perceived as the wheels falling off, Blackburn’s level has dropped, and Tony Mowbray has decisions to make before the end of the January transfer window.
Rovers lost out to struggling Hull City by a 2-0 scoreline on Wednesday night, Rovers’ second away defeat in three outings when including the FA Cup disappointment at Wigan Athletic.
Ben Brereton Diaz is now without a goal in four matches in all competitions, and it is no coincidence that Rovers have struggled for results at the same time that the Chile international has started to mis-fire.
On a positive note, Rovers have collected five wins and a draw from their last six fixtures at Ewood Park, the best return from home games over that timespan in the division.
Middlesbrough have taken over as the form team in the division of late, Chris Wilder overseeing an unbeaten streak which has now reached seven matches.
Although Boro have failed to score more than twice in any of those games, Wilder will be more than satisfied with the efficiency of their performances.
Boro had to show character in their latest outing, relying on two late goals from Matt Crooks to earn a 2-1 triumph over Reading at the Riverside Stadium.
Middlesbrough have now netted decisive strikes in their most recent three fixtures in all competitions, a trait which will not go unnoticed by their upcoming opponents.
At a time when Blackburn possess a lengthy unbeaten run at Ewood Park, Boro have not lost in their last four league matches on the road.
Blackburn Rovers Championship form:
Blackburn Rovers form (all competitions):
Middlesbrough Championship form:
Middlesbrough form (all competitions):
We say: Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Middlesbrough
Given the manner of Blackburn’s defeat last time out, there is an argument that Boro should be marginal favourites for this contest. However, home advantage could play a part, and we feel that a low-scoring – but extremely competitive – share of the spoils is on the cards.