The last time these sides met, Middlesbrough put Spurs out of the Carling Cup on penalties. This time Boro will be taking on Tottenham as Carling Cup holders and there should be quite an atmosphere at the Riverside as it is Middlesbrough’s first home game since their triumph in Cardiff.
While Boro were claiming the first silverware in their history, Tottenham have been enjoying an extended break from Premiership action, although this was probably required following the last few exhilarating league games. Thanks to 12 goals in the last three league outings, Spurs are now the fourth highest scorers in the Premiership this season. Only the top three are able to claim more goals while over half of the Tottenham strikes have come since the turn of the year. This makes Spurs the Premiership’s top scorers in 2004 and if the league had started on January 1, then David Pleat’s men would be second.
Robbie Keane has now hit seven in his last seven Premiership games while new signing Jermain Defoe has been in sensational form since he arrived from West Ham. The England Under-21 star has had eight shots at goal for Spurs, all of which have been on target, and four of which have resulted in goals.
It is at the back where Spurs need to improve having kept just the one clean sheet in their last 16 games. Only three sides may have scored more than Spurs, but there are only four who have conceded more. Middlesbrough are so far one of just three teams who have yet to score past Spurs in the Premiership this season although they have taken more Premiership points off Tottenham (25) than from any side during their Premiership history.
Unlike Spurs though, Boro have suffered from not scoring enough goals this season, averaging just over a goal-per-game, with only three sides having scored fewer this season. Steve McClaren’s men have managed a total of 247 attempts on goal this season — only bottom placed Leeds and Birmingham have created fewer.
It is a strong defence which Middlesbrough have built on this season but in recent weeks they have begun to concede more goals, which is something Tottenham will be keen to exploit. From October through to December, Boro kept seven consecutive clean sheets although since then they have managed just one shut-out.
<colgroup><col style="WIDTH: 122pt; mso-width-source: userset; mso-width-alt: 5924" width="162" /><col style="WIDTH: 97pt; mso-width-source: userset; mso-width-alt: 4717" span="2" width="129" /></colgroup>
|Shooting accuracy %||43%||44%|
|Pass completion %||72%||72%|
|Cross completion %||21%||22%|
|Tackles won %||73%||71%|
Middlesbrough v Tottenham