Middlesbrough v Tottenham: Costly mistakes need to be cut out, insists Aitor Karanka

DURING his time on Teesside, Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka has set quite a few records.

Middlesbrough manager, Aitor Karanka.

Taking pride of place is the longest run of clean sheets, which stands at a club record nine games and was set by Karanka’s promotion class of last season.

It probably will not have escaped the meticulous Basque’s attention that Boro could set two statistics of an unwanted variety if their recent downturn continues this afternoon.

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The unedifying prospect is of a third successive league defeat and back-to-back Riverside losses on home soil – and both would represent firsts under Karanka.

Boro’s form under the 43-year-old, especially at home, has been redoubtable and wonderfully consistent and the head coach’s pride is likely to be palpable in that regard.

In the past, the Teessiders have reacted well quickly to setbacks and Karanka is pinning his hopes on a repeat of that, while naturally taking into account the unforgiving level in which his side now operate.

To do that, Boro will need to cut out the uncharacteristic defensive errors that have dogged them in successive league losses to Everton and Crystal Palace.

After some relative clemency early on, an uncharitable early autumn fixture list has afforded Boro no favours for the second successive weekend, with another top-order and well-fancied side Tottenham Hotspur providing the second successive stern opponents after Everton.

It is something not lost upon Karanka, who admits that Boro will have to be at something approaching their best to take something from today’s game, in front of a near sell-out crowd.

Karanka, who locks horns with his good friend Mauricio Pochettino this afternoon, said: “They have top players and we have to know that (with) one mistake in the Premier League, we will be punished.

“In the Championship, you can be lost for 10 minutes and nothing happens.

“But now 10 minutes lost on the pitch is three goals in the Premier League.”

“Every team has good players at this level – Palace, Tottenham, West Ham – but we knew that at the beginning of the season and that is why we strengthened our squad.

“We have to take advantage of our strengths and to take advantage of our opponents’ mistakes.”