Tottenham v Middlesbrough - Preview

Fresh off the back of Carling Cup dissapointment on Sunday, Tottenham host Middlesbrough tomorrow night, in a massive six-pointer. The loss to Manchester United was hugely dissapointing, however the team can take confidence from the much improved performance; whilst ‘Boro received a missive boost after the weekend’s 2-0 defeating of Liverpool, scoring their first goals in nine matches. Pogatetz will most likely be sporting a new haircut, after he vowed not to shave his head or beard until the club scored a goal.

Austrian releived after Jamie Carragher’s goal opened scoring on Saturday

Team News

Jonathan Woodgate is Spurs’ main injury doubt,and will face a late fitness test after having to withdraw from the Carling Cup final moments before kick-off. Roman Pavlyuchenko played with a slight knock on Sunday, and will also be assessed closer to the time, whilst Ledley King will not be risked as he can only play one match per week these days. I also expect Harry to keep faith in Gomes in goal, after the unpredictable Brazilian kept a clean sheet against a misfiring United strike force on Sunday. Wilson Palacios, Robbie Keane and Pascal Chimbonda are eligable again and should come straight back into the starting eleven (the latter only if Woodgate is not passed fit). Carlo Cudicini and Fraizer Campbell have also returned to availability, however those I expect to start on the bench. Aaron Lennon limped off due to cramp at the weekend, and could well be handed a rest. Even so, I expect the team to shape up something like:

Gomes

Chimbonda        Dawson        Corluka        Ekotto

Lennon              Palacios         Jenas            Modric

                       Pavlyuchenko    Keane

Can We Win?

Yes. Simple as that. Despite the confidence of the victory over Liverpool, Middlesbrough are still on a dire run. This is probably as close you will get to a must-win game until the last day of the season, as we really need full points from the next two fixtures (’Boro and Sunderland), before we have to face Chelsea, Liverpool, United and Villa. If the defence can keep Tuncay quiet, and the attacking pair are on form, Tottenham should ease this… On paper. I know it is a long shot, but we are only eight points of seventh place with a game in hand, and should at the very least be aiming to match last season’s eleventh place finish.

My Verdict: I expect Spurs will dominate posession, but not create too many chances. However, second-half goals from Robbie Keane and Michael Dawson will be enough to earn a 2-0 victory.

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