Match Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Saturday's tie sees Spurs and Middlesborough meet for the 29th time in the Premier League, the sides last meeting came eight years ago where Spurs recorded a 4-0 win at home. Middlesbrough used the summer transfer window to add some extra quality to their squad, with the signings of Viktor Fischer, Victor Valdes and on loan Alvaro Negredo and Callum Chambers. Boro’s main objective will be to stay up this season and they can take heart from last season where only one of the promoted teams went straight back into the Championship. Aitor Karanka is in his 3rd season as Middlesbrough boss, it is his 1st positon in management after famously being Jose Mourinho assistant at Real Madrid for three seasons. In 144 games he has 74 wins which is an impressive 51%-win percentage. This is Spurs 1st game against a promoted side this season, having won all six fixtures last season with a fifteen plus goal difference. The most memorable being the last minute away win against Watford, which was a delightful back heel flick from Son.  

Middlesbrough line up in 4-2-3-1 formation, they like to keep possession and to pass the football. They are averaging over 473 passes per game with an 81% pass accuracy, which is similar to Spurs who have 493 passes and 82% pass accuracy. They have kept faith with a lot of the players who got them promoted, also having several home-grown players in Ben Gibson and Stewart Downing. They will be looking to be more creative with their possession as they are only averaging around 9 shots a game, compared to Spurs who average 19 shots per game. Spurs also like to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, this game could be an interesting matchup as they have similar styles. Spurs will have to be patient and maybe use the counter attack being the away side. They did this to great effect versus Stoke, when Dele Alli scored after a blistering run from Kyle Walker. The battle for this game could be won and lost in the midfield, Spurs hoping their power and pace could hold the advantage. They have good options in the holding midfield roles with Dembele, Dier and Wanyama as well as Sissoko and Alli can all play that role. A lot of the midfielders at Spurs are versatile and could help in a long season where there are plenty of games. There will be a run of games for Vincent Janssen as he will replace Harry Kane for a number of weeks due to an ankle injury. He will be eager to show his qualities and to show why Spurs paid £17 Million for his services. 

Middlesbrough ave had a mixed start to the season with two draws, one win and two defeats the last of which was a 3-1 defeat away to Everton. They find themselves in id table with five points, their home games could prove pivotal in their season so they will be trying to pick up as many points as possible. Spurs remain unbeaten with a 1-0 home win over Sunderland, that leaves them in 3rd place on 11 points. They made numerous chances throughout the match but couldn’t add to their tally. Their 19 first half shots were the most by any Premier League side since December 2015, a combination of good goalkeeping and the woodwork prevented them scoring from any of those shots. 

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