Middlesbrough v Tottenham Tips – Back super Swede to strike

Middlesbrough v Tottenham
Tuesday 1 March, 19:55
Live on BBC One and Betfair Live Video

Having already beaten Manchester United in this season’s FA Cup, Middlesbrough will attempt to repeat the trick against Spurs in the fifth round on Tuesday.

With home advantage and no replay on offer, they will likely fancy their chances.

Boro flying on home soil

Boro have won their last seven at the Riverside with manager Chris Wilder having rejuvenated the club’s promotion aspirations – they head into this game eighth in the Championship, just two points outside the play-off spots.

If you include the penalty shoot-out victory at Old Trafford, Wilder has won 11 of his 18 games in charge since taking the reins in November, losing only four.

However, two of those have come in the last three matches, with a slight bump in the road hit.

Saturday’s 3-2 loss at basement boys Barnsley left Wilder fuming at his defence, bemoaning “how deep the back three were” after they fell 2-0 down within a quarter of an hour.

“If you’re allowed nine subs, I’d have brought off back five at half-time,” he added, before criticising errors which have cost his team dearly in recent weeks: “The goals we concede at the moment are ridiculous.”

Boro will certainly need to tighten up against a Spurs side who smashed four past Leeds at the weekend.

However, it seemed funny timing to be blasting his defenders for dropping too deep.

After such criticism, the natural reaction would be to push up in the next game but that could cause all sorts of problems here.

Space invaders can cause problems

If Harry Kane isn’t running in behind, he’s playing exquisite through-balls for the likes of Heung-min Son and Dejan Kulusevski.

Space in behind will be the visitors’ friend, I suspect.

We must wait to see whether Wilder opts to change personnel in that area, and others.

He went strong against United at Old Trafford but this midweek round is followed on Saturday by a massive clash with fellow play-off chasers Luton, one which is sure to form part of Wilder’s selection thinking.

Spurs, who also put out a pretty much full team in the last round when they saw off Brighton 3-1, should go strong again.

Their next game isn’t for another six days (Everton at home) and given they’ve yet to win back-to-back games in 2022, Antonio Conte will surely be keen to build some momentum in what has been a frustrating, stop-start period for manager, fans and players.

In any case, some options are limited with Rodrigo Bentancur, Lucas Moura, Oliver Skipp and Japhet Tanganga all missing Saturday’s 4-0 victory at Leeds due to injury.

In the main, I’d expect only a handful of changes to the side which performed well at Elland Road.

That was Tottenham’s first clean sheet in 11 games, although how they kept Leeds out remains a mystery given the chances the hosts created. Twice they struck the woodwork, with a couple of other sitters missed.

Spurs odds-on favourites

In short, they were far from watertight again – only six Premier League clubs have conceded more shots.

Boro, who sit fifth in the Championship’s shots-taken table, should be able to cause a few problems of their own.

They are 5.24/1 to win in 90 minutes with Spurs odds-on at 1.728/11.

But rather than get involved in the outright betting, going in search of goals looks a better ploy.

BTTS worth backing

Over 2.5 will have its backers at 1.865/6 but, at an identical price, it’s both teams to score which warrants support.

This has landed in nine of Boro’s last 11, including the last six, and clearly they’ve had recent issues at the back.

The same can be said of Spurs given that lack of clean sheets and Boro should carry a goal threat.

Midfielder Matt Crooks is their top scorer, while wing-back Isiah Jones has been a real shining light this season and he’s now up to nine assists for the campaign.

Up front Wilder has options with Andraz Sporar and Duncan Watmore having recently been joined by loan arrivals Aaron Connolly and Folarin Balogun. As an Arsenal player, the latter should be particularly keen to shine if given the chance.

Crooks (7/2 anytime goal) and Jones (7/2 anytime assist) were both considered but the market looks to have both covered.

Super Swede overpriced

However, there’s a player who does look a bit of value in the goal markets and that’s Dejan Kulusevski.

He’s up at 9/4 to score in this game which is considerably bigger than Kane (8/11) and Son (5/4), with whom he formed the front three at the weekend.

The Swede has scored in two of his three starts since arriving on loan from Juventus and has very much looked an equal partner in that attack. He’s had eight shots across those three matches.

With Kane dropping deep at Leeds, Kulusevski was often the player furthest forward for Spurs and it was no surprise to see him get on the scoresheet given his first-half performance.

Kulusevski was undoubtedly helped by Spurs’ wing-backs getting forward regularly – a tactic Conte very much wants to employ.

Obviously we can’t be sure he’ll start but if he does then I don’t think he’s a 9/4 chance in this market, given what he’s produced so far.

And, of course, if he doesn’t start, you can get your money back by simply cashing out the bet before kick-off.

Author: wpadmin

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