Date: 11th May 2018 at 7:00pm
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You never know, we may see a goal-fest at the Riverside stadium tomorrow, but if we are being honest with ourselves, that is highly unlikely.

The major statistics point to a 0-0 draw. We have conceded the joint second fewest goals away this season (23 in 23), while our opponents have conceded just 17 at home.

Combine that with a team that scores on average 1.4 goals at home per game against us who’ve scored 1.3 goals away this season, then everything suggests a very tight contest.

For that reason, the team that wins the individual contests on the pitch will be the one that comes out on top. So, here is two to look out for:

1. Traore v Hutton/Adomah

Everyone has been going on about this matchup, and we’ll soon find out how far Adama has progressed since he left the club in 2016.

The Spaniard’s pace and dribbling ability are not in question, but will he be able to perform when it matters most? In the Scottish Cafu, we have a man with a wealth of experience. He will be outgunned in terms of speed, but the key will be preventing his opponent from getting the ball.

In this, he will need help from Albert Adomah if, as some expect, he starts from the left with Snodgrass on the right. We’ll see if that transpires but whoever lines up ahead of Hutton, a key job will be to limit Traore space in our defensive third. Early tackles are essential so he doesn’t get a run at our defence.

2. Grabban v Gibson/Ayala

This is a tall order for Lewis. The pairing he’ll be coming up against are well drilled. They have not only excelled under Pulis but also during their promotion season under Karanka.

Pulling them out of position will prove extremely difficult, but we have seen in the second half of the season how our no.45 can find space in dangerous areas of the pitch.

Having scored 20 goals this campaign, he has scored more than any of the other 21 players on the pitch tomorrow. He won’t get many chances, but he’ll have to be clinical if he gets one. Hopefully, his excellent form in recent weeks will hold him in good stead.

 
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