Belfast Telegraph

Boro boss Aitor Karanka expects no favours from Tottenham

Aitor Karanka has warned Middlesbrough not to expect any favours as they attempt to drag themselves away from a fight against Premier League relegation.

Boro head for Tottenham on Saturday sitting just two points above the drop zone and hoping the Londoners turn in the same kind of lacklustre performance they did in their goalless draw with bottom-of-the-table Sunderland in midweek.

However, Karanka is anticipating nothing other than a desperately tough afternoon at White Hart Lane after enduring painful experiences already this season.

He said, with a smile: "I don't know why, but everybody is really good against us.

"I was watching the Manchester United v Hull game and against us, they (United) looked like they were flying and on Wednesday, they were walking on the pitch - or that was my impression.

"But I am confident with our players, with our performances and I am just thinking about us because it's the only way."

Boro have won just once in their last nine league games, collecting only six points in the process, a return which has seen them slip from a comfortable mid-table position to one which leaves them perched precariously above the developing battle for survival.

But while an unwelcome combination of results this weekend could see the Teessiders drop into the bottom three, Karanka is comforted by the fact they head for Spurs level on points with reigning champions Leicester.

He said: "Of course we knew at the beginning of the season that it was going to be a tough season, but if you look at the table, we are in the same position with the same points as the team which won the Premier League title last season.

"We were playing in the Championship last season and we are on the same points as Leicester today, so I am really positive looking at the table and looking at the team and their attitude."

If Karanka will head for north London expecting a backlash after Spurs' drab goalless draw at the Stadium of Light, he will do so also knowing his team can compete with Mauricio Pochettino's title challengers if Boro play to their potential.

They did not during the first half of the reverse fixture at the Riverside Stadium in September and duly paid the price as Son Heung-min fired the visitors into a 2-0 lead after just 23 minutes.

However, Boro responded after the break and although the goal they got back was not enough to earn a point, Karanka was delighted with the response as the promoted side belatedly got to grips with life in the top flight.

He said: "We knew and we learnt that we have to go from the first minute until the last minute and to play at 150 per cent if it's possible."


From Belfast Telegraph