STAR PREVIEW: Tottenham v Middlesbrough

It is early in 2020, but Tottenham have not had a great start to the year and Jose Mourinho has a proper challenge on his hands if he’s to make a success of his first season there. There were actually many positives in their 1-0 defeat to a seemingly indestructible Liverpool side at the weekend but before they they’d gone three games without victory since a 2-1 win over Brighton, the one game they’ve won since the middle of December.

The long term absence of Harry Kane due to injury is something Spurs have dealt with before – although he was missed as Son Heung-Min and substitute Giovani lo Celso missed excellent second-half chances against Liverpool – but defensive issues are wrecking their season. Spurs have kept only one clean sheet in 12 games under Jose Mourinho in all competitions & their total of two Premier League clean sheets this season is the fewest of any team, along with Norwich City.

The fact Spurs are playing this game at all is not ideal for Mourinho, who is looking to claw back lost ground in the race for the Top 4, but there are plenty of reasons for them to give the FA Cup a good shake – not least the fact that they’ve not won a trophy since their 2008 League Cup win, and the FA Cup could well be the most winnable depending on the draw, for all that a very tricky away tie to Southampton lies in wait for the winner.

Tottenham Hotspur v Middlesbrough
FA Cup Third Round Replay
20:05 BBC One HD / BBC iPlayer

(Maximum 10 matches, Since 2010)
JAN 2020 FA CUP Middlesbrough 1-1 Tottenham
FEB 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE Tottenham 1-0 Middlesbrough
SEP 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE Middlesbrough 1-2 Tottenham

Middlesbrough will not be any sort of pushover, either; Johnathan Woodgate has done a brilliant job to rejuvenate a side that was badly struggling into one of the more in form sides in the Championship. From being stranded in the relegation zone when they lost 2-0 at Derby in November, Boro are now on a six-match unbeaten run in all competitions and 10 points clear of the bottom three.

That run includes a deserved 1-1 draw with Tottenham themselves in the replay, when they had the better of the first half before holding on well in the last 20 minutes. It’s also interesting to note that they lost the shot count 14-6 but drew the shots on target count 4-4 which suggests the gap between the two sides was smaller than the market expected it to be beforehand.

That also come against a full strength Spurs team and it will be interesting to see if Mourinho sends out another strong side given that Spurs played Liverpool on Saturday evening; Woodgate has a full squad to pick from and could well be tempted to give this another rattle.

The market has Spurs taking the most of home advantage and doing so with ease, but the gap between the two was much closer than most expected and that was with Spurs’ full strength team. Middlesbrough should feel confident of being able to make chances and they can stay close to Spurs on a two goal handicap. Five of the eight sides outside the top six in the Premier League would have won on a two goal handicap this season and Spurs reached that level in the reverse fixture between the two sides.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Middlesbrough +2 5 pts at 21/20 with

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