Middlesbrough vs Sunderland predictions: Goals expected in derby clash
The first Tees-Wear derby of the season takes place at the Riverside as Middlesbrough play host to Sunderland in the Championship.
Boro currently sit in the bottom three after winning only one of their seven matches so far this season and an improvement is needed if they are going to challenge for promotion.
Chris Wilder's side have played well without gaining results but they have been left wanting at the back, as they have conceded 12 goals to boast one of the worst defensive records.
Tony Mowbray won his first match in charge of Sunderland in midweek with a convincing 3-0 triumph against Rotherham, having taken over from Alex Neil.
The Black Cats could leap into the play-offs if they get a victory as Mowbray returns to the club he enjoyed such a distinguished playing career at.
Middlesbrough saw both Darragh Lenihan and Jonny Howson forced off with injury in their loss at Watford during the week but both players are expected to be available again.
Goalkeeper Zack Steffen's availability is more of a doubt with Liam Roberts set to deputise once again.
Chuba Akpom will be out for a bit longer with Wilder expecting the forward to be back after the international break.
For Sunderland, Daniel Ballard remains out injured along with Niall Huggins.
New signings Abdoullah Ba, Edouard Michut and Amad Diallo could all make their debuts.
Middlesbrough have won only one from seven league games this season, but Wilder will not be in the mood to panic just yet after seeing some promising performances.
Boro's scoring record of 10 goals in the Championship is far better than the teams around them at the bottom of the table and that ability to find the back of net could prove invaluable.
At home, Wilder's side are unbeaten in three league matches, having drawn with West Brom and Sheffield United before beating Swansea 2-1, and they will be hoping to keep the Riverside as a fortress.
Sunderland have won two of their three away league games this season, but they have a very poor record at Middlesbrough and their last victory on Teesside came in September 2005.
A high-scoring game is to be expected in this one, with both teams scoring in six of Middlesbrough's seven league games this season and in five of Sunderland's seven.
Boro are a very attack-minded team under Wilder, while Sunderland's win over Rotherham showcased some very good signs as far as Mowbray is concerned.
Ross Stewart could also be among the goals for the visitors with the Scotsman taking to the Championship straight away after promotion from League One.
He has already scored five goals this season and will fancy his chances against a Boro defence that has been ramshackle this season.