Middlesbrough v Tottenham preview: Spurs go for goals without Harry Kane
By Andrew Dickson
Last Updated: 24/09/16 2:42pm
Middlesbrough will have Cristhian Stuani and Jordan Rhodes back available after injury for Saturday's Premier League clash with Tottenham at the Riverside, while the visitors will have to adjust to life without Harry Kane.
Boro will hope that their historically strong home record against Tottenham can work in their favour on Saturday - with only one loss in their last 11 home Premier League games against the Londoners. However, Spurs have won 22 of their last 24 matches in the competition against newly-promoted sides.
Middlesbrough will be fresh after a free midweek following their EFL Cup elimination last month by Fulham, while Tottenham changed their whole team for their 5-0 win over Gillingham.
Mauricio Pochettino will therefore restore several key players to his starting XI as they look to at least consolidate their current third place in the table.
Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka will be pleased to have Stuani and Rhodes back after their respective injury absences.
Uruguay international Stuani missed the 3-1 defeat at Everton with a groin problem, while Scotland counterpart Rhodes sat out with a knee injury, but both have returned to training and are available once again.
The pair's return means Karanka has only full-back Fabio da Silva (knee) and midfielder Grant Leadbitter (hernia surgery) missing from his squad as he looks to end a run of two successive league defeats.
Mauricio Pochettino will make a late decision on Moussa Dembele and Eric Dier ahead of the trip to Teeside.
Dembele and Dier are both struggling with hamstring strains and may not be risked while Danny Rose will also be assessed as he nears recovery, also from a hamstring injury.
With Kane out with an ankle problem, Vincent Janssen will be handed his second Premier League start up front.
Middlesbrough have scored more Premier League goals against Tottenham than they have against any other side (37 in 28 meetings).
Spurs are one of two teams Middlesbrough have beaten nine times in the Premier League - West Ham being the other - and they have only beaten Manchester City more (11).
This will be Middlesbrough's 250th Premier League game at the Riverside Stadium (W98 D74 L77 so far).
Middlesbrough haven't failed to win any of their opening three home Premier League fixtures of a season since 2000-01, when they were winless in their first eight at the Riverside.
Spurs have only remained unbeaten in their opening six Premier League games of a season on one previous occasion, back in 2004-05.
Since the start of 2014-15, Kane has missed just four Premier League games for Tottenham. They have failed to win any of them and have scored just twice (D1 L3).
All five of Middlesbrough's Premier League goals this season have come before half-time, while both the goals Spurs have conceded have also come in the first half.
Tottenham have fielded the youngest average starting XI over the opening five matchdays of the 2016/17 Premier League season (25y 208d).
It will be interesting to see how Spurs cope without Kane, but it was important for Vincent Janssen to get off the mark in midweek against Gillingham.
I see Tottenham, who went to Stoke and gave them a footballing lesson, winning this pretty comfortably. They look a very good team.
Paul predicts: 0-3 (Sky Bet odds 14/1)
Tottenham are Sky Bet's even-money favourites for the victory, with Middlesbrough priced at 14/5 while the draw is a 5/2 chance.
Janssen heads the first goalscorer betting at 9/2 in Kane's absence, while Alvaro Negredo is considered the hosts' main threat at 7/1.
Kane's injury has prompted a slight drift in Spurs' title odds, from 16/1 to 18/1, while Karanka's men are currently 7/2 joint sixth favourites for relegation.