Premier League Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Middlesbrough

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  • Teams level all-time 34W-24D-34L
  • Historical rubber match
  • Boro two points off drop zone
  • Spurs nine back of Chelsea

Tottenham and Middlesbrough’s second match-up since 2008 will break a historical tie (Watch live Saturday at 12:30 p.m. EDT on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Of course none of the combatants have participated in more than Spurs’ 2-1 win at Boro in September, but the current crop of players will decide who takes bragging rights that began with a pair of matches in the 1905 FA Cup (Spurs won 1-0 after a 1-1 draw at Boro).

[ PL PREVIEW: Chelsea-Arsenal ]

Danny Rose is out for Spurs, but Hugo Lloris has recovered from illness and should feature as Tottenham hopes to gain ground on Chelsea.

Boro is looking for its first Premier League win since a Dec. 17 home defeat of Swansea City, though its only lost once in its last six matches across all competitions.

What they’re saying

Could Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino use a back three? “It’s an option [back three], we’ll see tomorrow. I never like to explain the day before to you but it’s an option to play three at the back or four. We have different players who can play the position. We have Kevin Wimmer and Ben Davies with Toby and Eric Dier. For me it’s not important the formation, it’s important how we develop our philosophy on the pitch.”

Boro’s Aitor Karanka on the race to avoid relegation: “I don’t think we need to look at other scores because we have to trust ourselves and trust this group of players. … When you look at the table we are in the same position as the team which won the league last season so let’s focus on ourselves, knowing that we have an important game on Saturday and we are ready to play it.”

Prediction

Boro’s troubles scoring don’t mix well with Spurs’ tough back line. Karanka is a smart tactician, but Spurs talent will be too much for the Teessiders. 3-1 to Tottenham.