Middlesbrough vs Chelsea Preview: Team News, Predictions, Key Stats, Betting Odds
Chelsea come back from the international break looking to keep their impressive run of five straight Premier League wins going with a trip to Middlesbrough on Sunday.
Antonio Conte’s switch to a 3-4-3 formation has paid dividends with Chelsea collecting five clean sheets and maximum points from their last five league outings, and will be confident of continuing that record at the Riverside Stadium.
Aitor Karanka’s side may be 15th in the table after 11 games, but recent away draws against Arsenal and Manchester City prove that this Middlesbrough side have resolve against the best the Premier League has to offer.
With Conte’s Blues in title-challenging form and Boro confident taking points from the likes of Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola of late, Sunday’s match could be more of a fight than most fans anticipate.
Middlesbrough – Aitor Karanka’s side will be pounded with relentless pressure by Chelsea this weekend. Injury concerns for the home team are relatively minor, and only Daniel Ayala will miss the game due to a foot injury.
The last time Middlesbrough won against Chelsea was in 2006 when Mark Viduka and Emanuel Pogatetz scored.
Manager Aitor Karanka is likely to field his players in a 4-5-1 formation, which is the same formation they used against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City two weeks ago.
Chelsea – Eden Hazard sparked an injury scare after asking to be substituted during Belgium’s 8-1 win against Estonia on Sunday due to a calf complaint, but Red Devils boss Roberto Martinez played down Chelsea fans’ injury fears.
Hazard said he is ready to get “back to business” for Chelsea after a fine start to the campaign, but Diego Costa may be a doubt for the trip after withdrawing from Spain’s squad last week due to a groyne problem.
Kurt Zouma and Cesc Fabregas should both be fit enough for places on the bench if Conte decides he needs either man, although Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s return date from a groyne injury is still unknown.
Middlesbrough XI: Valdes, Barraghan, Chambers, Gibson, Friend, Forshaw, Clayton, Traore, Ramirez, Downing, Negredo
Chelsea XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro, Costa, Hazard
Chelsea has kept a clean sheet in their last six matches against the Boro.
Chelsea has been ahead at both half-time and full-time in their last four matches (Premier League).
Boro to win: 11/2
Chelsea to win: 5/9
With a title challenge in mind, Chelsea will try to continue their amazing run with a win on Sunday. It will be incredibly tough for Boro to shut down the waves of attacks by Chelsea’s trio of Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, and Pedro Rodriquez for the entire evening. The Blues have a tremendous record against the home side as they haven’t lost to them in 11 years.
Middlesbrough will come onto the pitch to turn around the odds. While everyone backs Chelsea to win this ”easy fixture,” they would love to change the much-predicted outcome.
Final Prediction: Middlesbrough 0 – Chelsea 2
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