A place in the FA Cup fourth round will be up for grabs when Tottenham Hotspur take on Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on Sunday.
The action continues to come thick and fast in the Premier League, with teams currently vying for a place in the next stage of the FA Cup. Tottenham will be in action when they make the trip to the Riverside Stadium to lock horns with Championship outfit Middlesbrough on Sunday.
2019-20 has hardly been a season to remember for Middlesbrough, who are languishing at 16th on the Championship table, just four points outside the relegation zone. Boro, though, have won each of their last four games and are sure to approach this game with a sense of renewed vigour, especially with former Tottenham defender Jonathan Woodgate being their head coach.
As for Tottenham, they have not managed to get a sense of consistency, with the new manager bounce under Jose Mourinho seemingly starting to disappear. The North Londoners reached their lowest ebb under the tutelage of Mourinho earlier this week, going down to Southampton.
Tottenham ran out 2-1 winners the last time they locked horns with Middlesbrough, with Son Heung-min scoring a match-winning brace. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Jonathan Woodgate has a number of injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Tottenham. On Sunday, the Middlesbrough manager is set to be without as many as six first-team players, with key defender Daniel Ayala being the latest player to pick up an injury.
The former Tottenham superstar is expected to line his side up in a 3-5-2 formation, with Ayala’s replacement being the major decision he faces on Sunday. Paddy McNair ought to come into the starting lineup, starting in the back three, where he will have Jonathan Howson and Dael Fry as his partners.
With Darren Randolph on the sidelines, Aynsley Pears is expected to retain his place between the sticks for Middlesbrough. Djed Spence should continue as the hosts’ right wing-back, with Hayden Coulson expected to be deployed on the left wing.
In the middle of the park, the onus will be on George Saville to keep things tight, stifling the Tottenham attack, which has looked poor lately. Lewis Wing should provide company to Saville in the midfield, with Marcus Browne reprising the no. 10 role. A strong strike partnership ought to be named, with Rudy Gestede and Ashley Fletcher starting upfront for Middlesbrough.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Pears; Howson, McNair, Fry; Spence, Wing, Saville, Coulson; Tavernier; Gestede, Fletcher
Like his counterpart in the Middlesbrough dugout, Jose Mourinho has a spate of fitness troubles hampering his preparations. The Tottenham boss is set to be without Harry Kane for the foreseeable future after the English striker sustained a hamstring injury earlier this week.
Kane joins the likes of Hugo Lloris, Danny Rose, Ben Davies and Tanguy Ndombele – another fresh injury concern – on the sidelines. With Paulo Gazzaniga playing week in week out, a rest is in the offing, with Michel Vorm starting in his stead between the sticks.
Ryan Sessegnon should start on the left side of the Tottenham defence once again, with Kyle Walker-Peters set to start in place of Serge Aurier. Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are due a rest, meaning Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth should form the central defensive partnership for the visitors.
Up ahead in midfield, with Eric Dier still not fully fit, Harry Winks is likely to have Oliver Skipp as his partner in the double pivot. Giovani Lo Celso is set for a rare start, with the Argentine likely to reprise the no. 10 role.
With Lo Celso featuring centrally, Christian Eriksen ought to start on the left flank, with Erik Lamela likely to be deployed on the right wing on his return. Son Heung-min, available after serving his suspension, will replace Kane as Tottenham’s striker.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Vorm; Walker-Peters, Foyth, Sanchez, Sessegnon; Skipp, Winks; Lamela, Lo Celso, Eriksen; Son
- Middlesbrough and Tottenham have not met in the FA Cup since January 1966, when Spurs cruised to a 4-0 win. Boro have lost on each of the three occasions they have faced Spurs in the FA Cup.
- Tottenham have, in fact, won their last three matches against Middlesbrough, last facing them in February 2017 in the Premier League.
- Middlesbrough have been knocked out in eight of their last nine FA Cup ties against Premier League opponents, progressing only against Manchester City in January 2015 in this run.
- Tottenham have progressed from 38 of their last 40 FA Cup ties against opponents from outside the top flight, failing only against Leicester City in January 2006 and Leeds United in January 2013.
- Jose Mourinho has won 13 of his 14 FA Cup matches against lower-league opposition, losing only to Bradford City in January 2015 with Chelsea.
Player to Watch
It has been a frustrating season for Eriksen. After being denied the chance to leave Tottenham, in spite of his comments alluding towards wanting a new challenge, the Dane has become a bit-part player for the North Londoners, due to his desire to seal a possible move away from the club.
However, in Eriksen’s absence the lack of sheer creative quality has been rather visible, although he hardly made a difference against Southampton earlier this week. Set for another rare start against Middlesbrough, this is Eriksen’s time to make an impact and with it, attract possible suitors as well. A big game for the playmaker.
Middlesbrough 0-2 Tottenham
Tottenham are just not inspiring a lot of confidence of late, with consistency sorely missing from their game. A shock loss to Southampton is hardly an ideal preparation for their first FA Cup game this season, especially with Middlesbrough coming into the game high on confidence.
However, there are a few players with a point to prove, particularly Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-min, both of whom are enduring frustrating seasons for various reasons. Expect Boro to put up a strong fight over the course of the game, but as the game wears on Tottenham should grow into it. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Jose Mourinho & co.