Can Chelsea continue their push for the Premier League title against Middlesbrough on Monday night? A 3-0 win at Everton saw the leaders come through what was supposed to be their final big test on their path to the championship. Antonio Conte and his team are just three wins away from glory, with a very forgiving fixture list to round off the season. After facing second bottom Middlesbrough, they play West Brom, Watford and bottom side Sunderland. It just seems like a matter of time before the trophy returns to Stamford Bridge, but will the Blues move closer to becoming champions by seeing off a poor Boro outfit?
You’d expect the hosts to triumph here, especially as this match kicks off a crucial week in the season. Chelsea have three games in seven days, with West Brom away on Friday and Watford at home the following Monday. Tottenham face Manchester United in between those two clashes, so there’s a good chance that the title will be finished off next weekend, as long as Conte can keep his team focused for the visit of Middlesbrough.
Team News: Steady selection to keep Blues on course
Once again Conte can call upon a full strength side for this clash on Monday night. He named his strongest team at Everton, and there’s little need for him to rock the boat this week. They’ve had eight days between their last win and this clash, which gives them plenty of time to rest and prepare. That win at Goodison was an impressive display, and there’s little need to change anything. While Willian and Cesc Fabregas were impressive coming off the bench, they’re likely to find themselves with a watching brief from the start here. After putting out a strong message at Everton, Conte will have faith that his men can deal with Boro.
Middlesbrough come into this game without Victor Valdes in goal, but that’s not too much of a blow. The former Barcelona stopper hasn’t really impressed since coming to England, and Brad Guzan seems to be a better option for the visitors anyway. Boro are also missing Grant Leadbitter, but aside from those two they travel to the Bridge at full strength. They’re likely to line up in a 4-5-1 formation for this trip, with wingers in support of Alvaro Negredo. They had a slightly more attacking line up at home to City, but expect them to be a little more reserved in this trip.
Middlesbrough come into this game having won just one of their last 17 Premier League games. That victory came two weeks ago, but it was against bottom side Sunderland. The men from the Riverside haven’t beaten a side above them in the table since mid-December, and that was against the other side in the relegation zone, Swansea.
Despite their 2-2 draw at home to City being a positive, they’ve shipped four goals in trips to Bournemouth and Hull recently. They’ve lost five of their last six on their travels, scoring just twice across their last seven away days in the league. Those are all worrying stats for Boro, especially as they’re coming up against the league leaders, who have won 88% of their home games.
Chelsea v Middlesbrough Head to Head
Chelsea won the first meeting between these sides back in November, with Diego Costa scoring the only goal in that one. The last league meeting between them at the Bridge was in January 2009, with Salomon Kalou scoring both goals in a 2-0 win. Just who will be the hero who pushes the leaders ever closer to taking the title? Judging by the recent head to head record, there’s only one winner here.
- Middlesbrough 0-1 Chelsea, Nov 2016
- Middlesbrough 0-2 Chelsea, Feb 2013
- Chelsea 2-0 Middlesbrough, Jan 2009
- Middlesbrough 0-5 Chelsea, Nov 2008
- Chelsea 1-0 Middlesbrough, Mar 2008
- Chelsea to win to nil – 8/11 with BetVictor
- Over 2.5 Chelsea goals – 5/6 with Coral
Chelsea come into this game as massive favourites for the points, with Sky Bet making them 1/6 to wrap up a win. The hosts are clearly expected to move toward the title with another three points. The draw is 6/1 with Ladbrokes ahead of this clash, while Middlesbrough are out at 14/1 with Bet365 to take the points. Obviously there’s little value in the match betting, as we can’t see anything but a win for the leaders. However, recent meetings between these two point to a quiet afternoon for the Blues’ back line. Given their recent troubles, conceding in 10 of their last 11 in the league, that’s got to be welcome news for the current back three and Thibaut Courtois.
Chelsea come have now won to nil in their last seven meetings with Middlesbrough. That includes the 1-0 win at the Riverside earlier this term. The Blues know they’re facing one of the two lowest scoring sides in the top flight. While Boro hit two at home to City last time out, they score just 0.59 goals per game on their travels. The Blues may have fallen apart at the back of late, but their clean sheet at Everton raises expectations here. We expect another win to nil for the leaders, which is priced at 8/11 with BetVictor.
While we see Chelsea keeping things tight this weekend, we do expect the leaders to win in style on Monday night. Their 2-0 defeat to Manchester United now looks like a blip, as the Blues have scored at least three in four of their last five. Given that Boro conceded four times in a trip to Bournemouth recently, we’re confident that the Blues will put on a show going forward at the Bridge. We’re backing the hosts to score at least three goals against the league’s second bottom side, which is priced at 5/6 with Coral.