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How Spurs can beat Middlesbrough in the FA Cup

Tottenham Hotspur take on Middlesbrough in the third round of the FA Cup this weekend.

On the chalkboard

A clash with lower-league opposition could well be seen as an opportunity for manager Jose Mourinho to rotate but Boro have been in thoroughly decent form in recent weeks.

Managed by former Spurs man Jonathan Woodgate, who scored the winning goal in the 2008 League Cup, the Championship club have won four on the bounce, beating Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Bromwich Albion and Preston North End.

How exactly, then, do Spurs beat them?

They have conceded 32 goals in the Championship, with 20 coming from open play. Seven have been set-pieces, while they have shipped three own goals and two from penalties, per WhoScored.

They are equally as vulnerable on the right as they are the left, conceding 15% of their shots from the right flank and another 15% from the left.

A total of 70% of the shots they have conceded have come through the middle.

In addition to that, they are easily carved apart, with 54% of the opposition’s effort from within the 18-yard box and a further 10% from the six-yard box.

Furthermore, Middlesbrough average 266 short passes per game but their opposition average 353.

This suggests that Woodgate’s men routinely surrender possession to their opponents and it will be down to Spurs to find a way through.

No clues whatsoever: Which seasons do these iconic Spurs images belong to?

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Which season does this iconic Spurs image belong to?

Didn’t look like scoring

Against Southampton, Spurs were remarkably poor.

They didn’t really create a proper chance and were continuously attempting to thump the ball over the midfield and the defence with long balls from deep.

Without Harry Kane, who was injured against the Saints, Jose Mourinho has to choose between Son Heung-Min and Troy Parrott up front, but neither are players capable of holding the ball up and plucking punts out of the air.

Should Mourinho play Parrott against Middlesbrough?

Yeah, give him a chance!

Yeah, give him a chance!

No, rely on experience!

No, rely on experience!

Thus, they need to ensure that they have the players on the pitch capable of picking the Boro lock.

Woodgate is not silly enough to match his old club up and attempt to go punch-for-punch with them; instead, he is likely to set up his team to sit deep and try to counter.

If they are to progress to the fourth round, Spurs need to make sure that they do not have the chance to do that, and that they find a way through that inevitable blockade in front of the Boro goal.

Meanwhile, one Spurs ace was in terrible form against Southampton

Article title: How Spurs can beat Middlesbrough in the FA Cup

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