Middlesbrough come to White Hart Lane this weekend and to be honest, it’s not one to get the heart racing. It’s on telly though – why? – I’ve no idea.
Boro lie 15th, but it’s an uncomfortable 15th. They have the same points as Leicester and Swansea and are 2 points ahead of Palace, the team in the first relegation slot. Leicester must be pooing themselves by the way – the only team in the bottom six not to pick up any points during the week. In fact it was a strange old batch of midweek fixtures as Man City were the only team in the top 10 unbelievably to win. Totes amazeballs.
The Teesiders haven’t won in the league since December 17th and have won just one game away from the Riverside (at Sunderland in August) all season, but have picked up a point 6 times including draws at both the Emirates and the Etihad. They recently nearly got more at Old Trafford where two late goals facilitated ultimately, a home win.
Defence is the best form of defence
So despite an array of attacking talent (?) that includes Alvaro Negredo, Cristhian Stuani, Patrick Bamford and Rudi Gestede, I think we know what we can expect – ninety minutes of Rorke’s Drift reenactment. Like the proberbial bad penny Stuart Downing may get an outing but it’s the likes of Fabio, Gibson, Clayton and De Roon on whom Boro will probably depend for a result.
Kane, where is thy sting?
So what we need is an early goal, but just how, given the blanks being fired on Tuesday night, are we going to get it? Well not through Danny Rose by the sounds of it as it looks like he’s going to be given time to recover from a chronic knee injury. Jan Vertonghen is also still absent which probably limits Pochettino’s options, depending on how much he trusts Kevin Wimmer & Ben Davies to play three at the rear.
Back three to the future
Despite Rose’s absence I suspect he’d love to revert to the system that was blowing everyone away just a few short weeks ago and he may well do so despite the missing personnel but the dynamism and the dynamic won’t be the same so if he does, it’ll be a bit of a leap of faith. Talking of which, and given the way he was carrying the ball out of defence last week, there’s a reasonable chance he may think that Carter-Vickers is a better option than Wimmer. Just a thought. Lamela and probably Trippier, are also likely to be missing.
Baseless score prediction
Cup matches notwithstanding we have only 8 games left to play at WHL, unless we get an early goal we may find that this is one of the more frustrating ones. Middlesbrough seem to be a side that never gets tonked, but also never does any tonking. Given this the best we can probably hope for is a 1-0, 2-1 or a 2-0, but any of those scorelines will do nicely thank you.
Twattenburg is the ref so expect the unexpected.
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