Chelsea travel to Middlesbrough in the semi-final of the closest chance to silverware they’ve seen since claiming the Champions League three years ago…
Both sides have just four days rest after this match but reasonably strong lineups, particularly from the away side, are expected given the gravitas of the match and the importance of progression to Wembley.
Boro were last seen against Aston Villa in the FA Cup where both teams performed with a degree of torpidity and it was Matty Cash’s strike from outside the box that sneaked Villa through to the next round in the dying strides of the match.
Before that match, Middlesbrough’s highlights this season have come at the expense of Leicester in November, and they’ve been consistently hovering around the mid-table pack in the Championship, currently sitting in 12th.
That current home is hardly flattering considering they made the playoffs in 4th last season where they fell to Coventry, although the sale of top goalscorer Chuba Akpom to Ajax is certainly a valid excuse for the club’s decline this time around.
Former Premier League Leeds player and Middlesbrough top goalscorer Sam Greenwood is likely to feature in the midfield alongside 21 year-old forward Joshua Coburn who has netted a goal in two of his last three outings.
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Middlesbrough v Chelsea
20.00 Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Football
(Maximum 10 matches)
MAR 2022 FA CUP Middlesbrough 0-2 Chelsea
MAY 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 3-0 Middlesbrough
NOV 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE Middlesbrough 0-1 Chelsea
FEB 2013 FA CUP Middlesbrough 0-2 Chelsea
JAN 2009 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 2-0 Middlesbrough
OCT 2008 PREMIER LEAGUE Middlesbrough 0-5 Chelsea
MAR 2008 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 1-0 Middlesbrough
OCT 2007 PREMIER LEAGUE Middlesbrough 0-2 Chelsea
FEB 2007 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 3-0 Middlesbrough
AUG 2006 PREMIER LEAGUE Middlesbrough 2-1 Chelsea
Chelsea arrive in the North-west in the midst of what must be called an underwhelming Premier League campaign. After spending what feels like a cheque for infinite transfer ammunition throughout the summer, and no European Cup campaign to dilute their quality, a spot in 10th is surely the antithesis of their entire mission.
With a Champions League finish in the league looking to be a write-off at this stage even with 18 games left, the EFL Cup looks to be their only successful theatre of battle this season and they’ll be praying that Fulham pull off the impossible at Anfield in the other semi-final.
It looked a shaky affair at Stamford Bridge most recently against Preston where Pochettino’s men were held to a goalless draw at half-time, before his side showed some overdue class in the second half by putting four goals past the Championship side.
Prior to that, Chelsea sealed successive Premier League victories against Luton where the wheels hung on by a thread despite conceding two goals late on in their 3-2 win, as well as a final minute penalty to beat Crystal Palace 2-1. The Blues aren’t winning contests as easily as their squad suggests they should be.
Despite Cole Palmer’s glittering eight Premier League goals this season, the eye test tells you he’s still a work in progress. With Senegal international Nicolas Jackson away on international duty for the first period of 2024, the baton is now with Armando Broja who should be given ample room to cement himself as an effective goalscorer and prove he deserves a more regular position in the starting lineup.
Even with some reluctance to go near Chelsea due to the fact they can sometimes take a while to get going, Middlesbrough’s performance tonight won’t be a million miles off the football Chelsea faced against Preston at the weekend and if that second-half performance can be replicated, Chelsea to score over 2.5 goals is a bet at 13/8 with starsports.bet.
In addition, it looks as if 70 million euro signing Mykhailo Mudryk might finally be finding his legs in a blue shirt with two goals in his last four outings despite total minutes played being just 175. If he starts, the price of him scoring at anytime at 2/1 with looks reasonable with starsports.bet.
BACK Chelsea to score over 2.5 goals 2pts at 13/8 (⭐
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BACK Mykhailo Mudryk to score anytime 1pt at 2/1 (⭐
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