Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
Having nicked an equaliser in the second half when this tie was first played, Tottenham may have escaped the ignominious early cup exit that this season seems to have been leaning towards. However, as much as they come into the replay as clear favourites, the North London side can’t take anything for granted. Jonathan Woodgate’s Middlesbrough side are one of the fastest-improving sides in the Championship and come into this game unbeaten in six.
Jose Mourinho arrived at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with a job to do – turning around a Spurs side that too often seemed to amount to less than the sum of its parts. After nearly two months in the job, any improvement that may have been achieved seems too small to measure – and shorn of their talismanic striker, the hosts look vulnerable against any opposition right now.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Middlesbrough Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Middlesbrough
The last time Spurs won a trophy, the winning goal and Man of the Match award went to the man sitting in the Boro dugout tonight. That was twelve years ago, and Woodgate is now involved in trying to keep the Tottenham drought going. The former Leeds man has developed a side that plays attractive football, and it’s an admirable approach from a rookie boss – however, on this occasion it’s hard not to predict a home win for Mourinho and his more “professional” approach.
Our recommended tip: Ashley Fletcher AGS
As Spurs fell to a 1-0 loss at home to Liverpool this past weekend, it was scarcely believable that the two clubs had contested the Champions League final last June. The idea that Mourinho’s side were somehow on the same level as their opposition was laughable – and in truth, it feels right now as though Spurs are closer to Boro’s level than to Liverpool’s. The Teessiders certainly gave their nominally superior opponents a fright at the Riverside Stadium on the opening weekend of January, and Ashley Fletcher found plenty of space to attack. He’s 7/2 to grab another goal tonight, and he’s worth the punt.
As this is a replay, it’s not a great surprise that the sides have met fairly recently, with the original game having taken place in the North-East just under ten days ago. Spurs had much more of the ball but, shorn of Kane’s influence, seemed ill-equipped to do much with it, and it was only mildly surprising when Fletcher finished from a George Savile pass to make it 1-0. The effect of conceding seemed to galvanise Spurs, who sent on a pair of midfield reinforcements, and they found space to release Serge Aurier, whose cross was powerfully headed home by Lucas Moura to level the scores at 1-1 – which was how the game finished.
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Players to watch: Lucas Moura & Patrick Roberts
Moura arrived in London from Paris St Germain, having been deemed surplus to requirements at a club that had signed Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. PSG’s needless stockpiling of resources has been very much Spurs’ gain, with the Brazilian a vital influence in a Spurs attack that needs something different in Kane’s absence. An excellent dribbler of the ball, Moura’s skill will be a real test for a Boro defence more used to facing Championship-level forwards.
Roberts arrived at Manchester City in 2015 from Fulham and, since then, has actually played more often against his parent club than for them. He has been loaned out repeatedly, most notably to Celtic, but his current loan to Boro might be the one that gets him the most attention within England. The winger’s ability to beat an opponent from a standing start is verging on world-class, and against a Spurs side short on left-back cover he could well run amok here.