OPPONENTS Middlesbrough 
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Saturday 24th September 2016
VENUE Riverside Stadium
Middlesbrough  SQUAD 1.  Dimitrios KONSTANTOPOLOUS
2.  FABIO da Silva
3.  George FRIEND
4.  Daniel AYALA
5.  Espinosa BERNARDO
6.  Ben GIBSON
8.  Adam CLAYTON
9.  Jordan RHODES
10.  Alvaro NEGREDO
11.  Viktor FISCHER
12.  Brad GUZAN
13.  Tomas MEJIAS
14.  Marten de ROON
15.  Carlos de PENA
16.  Antonio BARRAGAN
18.  Cristhian STUARI
19.  Stewart DOWNING
21.  Gaston RAMIREZ
23.  Julien de SART
24.  Emelio NSUE
25.  Calum CHAMBERS
26.  Victor VALDES
34.  Adam FORSHAW
35.  David NUGENT
37.  Adama TRAORE
40.  James HUSBAND
PREVIEW Despite my memories from the 1970s, when matches against Boro were turgid, low scoring affairs, the last few meetings have featured quite a few goals ... and too many have been against us !!

The current Boro incarnation under Aitor Karanka have returned to the Premier League and will be trying to maintain their status with some tough games ahead.  They have had a bit of a wobble with defeat at Everton following a home defeat by Palace and a score-less draw at West Brom.  Goals have been harder to come by this season than last in the Championship.  Karanka has done well with his summer recruitment, bringing in Alvaro Negredo from Valencia on loan.  A striker who scored regularly for Manchester City, he is still blessed with good movement and an ability to finish in an eccentric manner, but that is borne of knowing where the goal is and being willing to get the ball in, whatever it takes.

Scottish striker Jordan Rhodes wasn't quite as prolific at Boro as he had been at Blackburn, but he is fit again now and may be a danger because of his enforced lay off.  Good on the floor and in the air, it will be interesting to see how he does against Premier League defenders.  Former Leicester striker David Nugent is still chasing away up front, despite his advancing years and he is a nuisance to play against, as he is always chipping away at defenders and not shy at having shots at goal.

Defensively, the signing of former Manchester United and Barcelona keeper Victor Valdez was a surprise, but he has also had his dodgy keeper moments, with Brad Guzan in reserve, the Villa keeper had a tough time last season behind the back for in a relegated team.  Dimitrios Konstantopolous was a little unlucky to lose his place, as he looked a reasonably sound goalie last season.  In front of them will be England central defensive prospect Ben Gibson, who is impressing Sam Allaradyce with his performances so far.  Strange then, that one loan signing in the summer was a former England central defensive prospect in Gooner Calum Chambers, who has failed to reach the levels he looked as though he might set.  Likely to be on the bench, Chambers will watch Daniel Ayala alongside Gibson, but the ex-Liverpool and Norwich man has a chronic lapse of concentration too often and has been punished in the top flight, so maybe Chambers will feature.  Left back George Friend is keen on getting forward, but lacks sufficient speed to get back once the ball is lost, so there is scope for attacking the space that he leaves when he moves into attack.  Almost every team we play these days has a former Liverpool fringe defender, who had move don and returned to the Premier League and Antonio Barragan has filled the right back slot at Boro after playing for Deportivo La Coruna, Valladolid and Valencia.  A promising younger player, who worked through the international ranks to Under-21, his career stalled and he is looking to put in some over-lapping runs to get a regular run in the Middlesbrough side. 

Adam Forshaw and new signing Marten de Roon are deployed in front of the back four, with their hard work protecting the defence.  A three man attacking midfield unit usually consists of George Nsue, Gaston Ramirez and Stewart Downing.  The latter two are reasonably well known to Premier League watchers, with Ramirez flopping at Southampton and Hull City, while Downing has been around working his way through Aston Villa, Liverpool and West Ham before returning to Teesside.  A winger who has never really fulfilled his potential, he is now entering the veteran stage being 32 and his wing play does not look any different to when he was much younger (and that is not a compliment).  Ramirez looks a strongly built player, but has the propensity to disappear from games.  On the other hand, he can produce a moment of magic, but not that often fortunately.  Nsue, I don't know too much about, but what I have seen recently is not that impressive.  He might be quick, but his control over the ball and what he does with it are not that great.  He can put a good ball in now and again, so it will be down to Davies to stop him doing that.

Amongst the squad they have Grant Leadbitter, who seems to have been running around in midfield forever, while Adam Clayton played a big part in their promotion push last season, being able to chip in with the odd goal.   Vicktor Fischer has been signed from Ajax and had been linked with Spurs for a number of years.  Still only 22, he is seen as a long term eventual replacement for Christian Eriksen at international level, as he was at club level in Holland, but while he possesses strength and skill, he sometimes is not preferred for a starting role for some reason.  Fischer has the eye for a damaging pass and can also finish well, so needs to be watched if he takes part.

Uruguayan Cristhian Stuari joined Reggina in Italy, but played more games in four seasons out on loan than he did for his parent club in the five years they owned him before he left for Espanyol.    After two years he left for the Riverside and made his reputation early this season with two goals in the derby with Sunderland.  A player who is capable of breaking forward from midfield, he possesses a powerful shot on him.  Adama Traore, who came in from Aston Villa, had a big reputation as a dynamic winger, but has only played 13 games in three years.  Whether Karanka can get the best out of him remains to be seen. 

I wonder how Karanka will play this one.  Being the home side, they will be expected to be a bit more offensive than they were at Everton last week, when they scored early, but once the home team got back into it, were unable to hit back.  Setting up with a team to stop the other side scoring doesn't necessarily mean you are then able to become more offensive if the need arises.

Spurs are good away from home and Kranaka knows this, so will put out a team to stop Spurs having time on the ball, with Forshaw and de Roon closing down the space outside the penalty area, where Spurs often create from.  Having signed new contracts a lot of the Spurs squad will now be looking to push on from last season's good form and take it further.  

Middlesbrough are focused on survival this season, but will be looking to take a few big scalps and Spurs have to make sure they are not one of them, so need to move the ball as they did against Gillingham to pull the opposition around.  Without Kane, it might be a little more difficult, as Janssen is still settling, but he will be confident after getting his first Spurs goal from the spot in midweek and although Boro will make it a tough game, Spurs should emerge with the three points.

PREDICTION Middlesbrough    1        Tottenham Hotspur    2
RESULTS HISTORY Click here for results, match reports and facts on meetings with Middlesbrough
Fabio (knee), James Husband (shoulder) and  Grant Leadbitter (hernia) all miss the match, but Cristhain Stuani (groin) and Jordan Rhodes (ankle) are set to return. 
Harry Kane (ankle) is definitely out of the match at the Riverside, while Danny Rose, Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele will all be assessed at the last minute to see if they are available for selection.

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Middlesbrough  1 (0)  

Premier League
Saturday 24th September 2016
Riverside Stadium
Tottenham Hotspur  2 (2)

Kick off 15:00
Gibson  65m 03s Son  6m 20s
Son  22m 15s
Traore (foul on Lamela)  87 
Friend  (foul on Lamela)  90+5


Walker  (handball)  63


Crowd :   32,703 Weather :  Sunny, breezy
Referee : Graham Scott (Oxfordshire) Assistant Referees :  Mr. R. West; Mr. D. Bryan
Fourth Official :  Mike Jones  
Middlesbrough kicked off and played towards the South Stand in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 8 minutes.
Stoke City : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
26  Victor VALDES

16  Antonio BARRAGAN
25  Calum CHAMBERS
  3  George FRIEND  (c)     

18  Cristhian STUANI
14  Marten de ROON
8  Adam CLAYTON  (34  Adam FORSHAW 82)
19  Stewart DOWNING

21  Gaston RAMIREZ  (37  Adama TRAORE  59     )

10  Alvaro NEGREDO  (  9  Jordan RHODES  59)

Unused subs: 
12  Brad GUZAN
  4  Daniel AYALA
11  Vicktor FISCHER
24  George ESUE


    1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

  2  Kyle WALKER      
33  Ben DAVIES

12  Victor WANYAMA
20  DELE Alli 

17  Moussa SISSOKO  (11  Erik LAMELA  70)
23  Christian ERIKSEN  (14  Georges-Kevin N'KOUDOU  90)
  7  Heung-Min SON   

  9  Vincent JANSSEN  (28  Harry WINKS  8)

Unused subs: 
13  Michel VORM

16  Kieran TRIPPIER
27  Kevin WIMMER

Manager :  Aitor Karanka Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor :   Ramsdens Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  Errea Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

Not quite a game of two halves, but Tottenham's impressive first half display put two goals past Middlesbrough, but the second saw the home side get a goal back and set up a wobbly last 25 minutes, when they should have been dead and buried.

The sun shone, but a chill wind blew as Boro kicked off at the Riverside.  Alvaro Negredo looked lively as he almost got across the near post to meet a Downing cross, but Sissoko had already fired a shot over the bar from distance and Alli's shot was tipped over by an alert Victor Valdes.  Hugo Lloris had to be quick out of his box to beat Negredo to a through ball, but son Spurs were moving the ball confidently and created a good opportunity that Heung-Min Son took to give Tottenham a seventh minute lead.  The ball was played by Eriksen in to Vincent Janssen, who had a man at his back in the area but held him off and laid the ball into the path of Sonny as he ran into the area from the right.  Taking the ball inside, he drilled a low shot past Valdes' right hand from ten yards out to make it a good quick start from Tottenham.

Son was obviously confident after the two goals he got at Stoke City and soon he was replicating that performance, as he netted in the 22nd minute.  The ball was played to the winger on the left side of Middlesbrough's area and looked to have lost the ball, but got to the loose ball first a yard from the dead ball line.  Although there were three Boro defenders around him, he ran away from goal until he was 16 yards out.  There was no red shirt going with him, so he curled a right foot shot that left Valdes flat-footed and doubled Tottenham's lead.  it was the finish of a player in good goal-scoring form and put Boro in a position of being caught between trying to get back into the game or trying to contain Spurs.

They did neither really.  Alli and Eriksen went so close to getting onto through balls, only to be denied by offside flags.  Son's run down the left wing saw him play a low ball in to Eriksen and his shot was blocked, taking it into the path of Sissoko, but Valdes recovered to block the shot from the Frenchman and Spurs got a corner.  When it went to the far post, the ball was worked to Dele on the left by Sissoko and Stuani came in behind him giving him a nudge on the way, but referee Scott pointed for a goal-kick, taking the easy way out rather than awarding the penalty the foul deserved. 

Spurs were stroking the ball about to dictate the play and Sissoko almost played an inviting ball across goal, but defenders got there to clear.  Son got the ball and hit a shot that was deflected well over for a corner.  Another corner followed and once more the ball was recycled keeping the play mainly in the home team's half.  Dele Alli had a shout for a penalty as Ben Gibson challenged for a ball into the six yard box and then the England midfielder should have scored when Eriksen nicked the ball off a dawdling Gooner Calum Chambers in his own area and squared for Alli, who blazed over from ten yards out.  Too often Spurs players had the ball with a ten yard radius around them without a red shirt in it and Boro were almost bringing Spurs onto them, but they did not have an out ball or an ability to break-away. 

Boos rang out as Boro headed for the safety of the dressing room.

Spurs kicked off the second half and Jan Vertonghen was soon slaloming the ball out of defence, taking him into the Boro half, where he let Alli play a first time ball through to Janssen on the left of centre.  He got there first, but couldn't wrap his foot around it enough to get it on target.  Spurs were working the ball well and forced a couple of corners, before some neat passing in the final third saw a number of shots blocked.  Whenever the ball went loose, it was a gold shirt picking it up and the pressure was building on Boro.  Son went down in the area as Barragan dived in, but no penalty was given once more.

Two subs for Boro looked to change the game, with Adama Traore and Jordan Rhodes coming on for Ramirez and Negredo.  Traore got the crowd buzzing with a pacy run through the middle of the pitch, but his final ball was too far ahead of Rhodes and Lloris gathered the ball.  When Spurs strung together a passage of passing, the ball was set up for Alli to shoot just over the angle from outside the box.  Boro got a cheap free-kick when Walker was bundled over and went to grab the ball only to find a free-kick against him and a yellow card being waved in his direction.  It looked a threatening position, 25 yards out on the left wing, but when Downing took it, he swung the ball straight out of play.  The next one, given against Wanyama, was put into the heart of the box and Gibson rose above Sissoko to head low past Lloris's left hand.  Sissoko hardly jumped and Gibson came over the top of him to bring Boro back into a game that they should have had no way of getting a goal.

Sissoko had to go off after a challenge from Friend and Lamela came on.  Wanyama was nudged over in the centre circle by Stuani and the ref gave a free-kick. Strange that when the same sort of incident happened in the box, he wasn't willing to blow his whistle.  Tottenham were being closed by the pace of Traore and he knocked Vertonghen over without being penalised and could not find Rhodes with his pass.  Spurs were also picking up loose balls, manoeuvring the ball around the box to give Son a shooting chance on the left, but his shot was blocked.   Lloris had to be alert twice in a couple of minutes, with a race to the edge of his box, where he handled the ball but pulled his hands back as he slipped out of the box and then he gathered a header low down as Rhodes met Downing's left wing cross.

Eriksen moved the ball to the edge of the box linking well with Davies, but as he took it inside to the D, his final pass right was short and was picked off, allowing Boro to go forward.  Walker had to conceded a corner, then as the home team built the move up again, Spurs could not clear the ball.  Boro won a corner, but fouled when it was played in, so when the next phase nof play developed, Chambers lost it in his own half and Spurs broke, passing the ball in the opposition's area, but couldn't fashion a clear shooting chance, until Lamela curled a low shot and Valdes got behind it. 

Janssen was substituted and Harry Winks came on, but not before Gibson shoved the Dutchman two handed in the back to encourage him to leave the field.  Again, weak refereeing allowed the Middlesbrough man to go unpunished.  However, Traore did see yellow when he lunged, studs-up on Lamela.  With time ticking down, Boro slung balls into the box or forwards and one went up into the air from a clearing header and it fell to Forshaw wide of the goal on the right, but his shot was well wide. 

Barragan started pointing his finger in Son's face when he had the ball in the corner at the home end, but again, the referee failed to act, other than have a word with him.   Boro were in the Spurs half and passing the ball about, but their final ball was long and  the chance had gone.  Son tried to keep the ball in the corner again, but gave away a free-kick in the last minute of added time, but Tottenham won the ball when it was played forward and sub N'Koudou fired a shot over the top.  The referee finally showed some understanding of the game when he went back to book Friend for an awful tackle on Lamela, which could have done the Argentine midfielder some damage if the Boro defender had been good enough to actually get there. 

The game ran out of time, with Spurs managing the ball and surviving a bit of a scare, with the side sitting back a little in the second half.  With a long midweek trip to CSKA Moscow and then Manchester City at home next Sunday, it will be a tough week and perhaps you could forgive the players having that in the back of their minds.

What Tottenham had done in the first half, passing and moving, they didn't do as well in the second.  Some of this might have been because Middlesbrough were a bit better, but not having the buffer of more goals from the dominant first half performance and then not being clinical enough with the chances in the second half, it gave Boro an opportunity they should never have deserved.

Son was the shining star of the team today, but honourable mentions should go to Walker and Davies, who raided up the flanks in the first 45 minutes (and a bit in the second); Wanyama, who covered a lot of ground and was strong when tackling; Janssen, who battled away up front, holding up play until support arrived, with Alli and Eriksen being that support.  They played the ball nicely in the first period, worked hard to get it back and didn't allow the home team to get any momentum.  Spurs sit second in the league and to stay there or get further up the table, we need to do it for 90 minutes and on a consistent basis.

Frank Shipham




Middlesbrough top scorer in the 1920-21 season, Alf Gaskett was a heavy smoker, but once he had the goal in sight, he would be on the ball like a flash.  However, opposition players got the idea to puff smoke rings near him before he received the ball and he was distracted enough to forget the ball.  This became known as 'blowing A. Gaskett'.


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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Arsenal 3 Chelsea 1 Saturday
Bournemouth 1 Everton 0 Saturday
Liverpool 5 Hull City 1 Saturday
Manchester United 4 Leicester City 1 Saturday
Stoke City 1 West Bromwich Albion 1 Saturday
Sunderland 2 Crystal Palace 3 Saturday
Swansea City 1 Manchester City 3 Saturday
West Ham United London 0 Southampton 3 Sunday
Burnley 2 Watford 0 Monday



League Table  2016-17
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester City 6 6 0 0 18 5 18 +13
2 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 6 4 2 0 10 3 14 +7
3 Liverpool 6 4 1 1 16 8 13 +8
4 Arsenal 6 4 1 1 15 7 13 +8
5 Everton 6 4 1 1 10 4 13 +6
6 Manchester United 6 4 0 2 12 7 12 +5
7 Crystal Palace 6 3 1 2 10 7 10 +3
8 Chelsea 6 3 1 2 10 9 10 +1
9 Southampton 6 2 2 2 7 6 8 +1
10 West Bromwich Albion 6 2 2 2 7 6 8 +1
11 Watford 6 2 1 3 10 11 7 -1
12 Leicester City 6 2 1 3 8 11 7 -3
13 Burnley 6 2 1 3 5 8 7 -3
14 Hull City 6 2 1 3 7 12 7 -5
15 Bournemouth 6 2 1 3 4 9 7 -5
16 Middlesbrough 6 1 2 3 6 9 5 -3
17 Swansea City 6 1 1 4 5 10 4 -5
18 West Ham United London 6 1 0 5 7 16 3 -9
19 Stoke City 6 0 2 4 4 15 2 -11
20 Sunderland 6 0 1 5 5 12 1 -7


Position before match :   3rd
Position after match :  2nd
Position after the weekend :  2nd


* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.


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