5:00 AM (AEST) Tuesday, May 9 at Stamford Bridge, London
Round 36 of the English Premier League comes to a close on Tuesday when League leaders Chelsea play hosts to the second last Middlesbrough.
Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Azpilicueta; Kante, Willian, Matic, Oscar, Hazard; Costa.
Middlesbrough: Valdes; Barragan, Chambers, Gibson, Friend; de Roon, Forshaw, Stuani, Ramirez, Downing; Negredo.
These two sides have met in 105 League games previously, with Chelsea holding a formidable lead, having won 48 games to Middlesbrough’s 28 wins, which 29 matches have been drawn. Chelsea has won the last seven encounters across all competitions, with a combined scoreline of 16-0. Their last clash was earlier this season where the Blues won 1-0..
The Blues have been impressive all season, winning 20 of their 26 League games so far, dropping just three games against top sides Liverpool 2-1, Arsenal 3-0 and Tottenham 2-0. After picking up clean sheets in six straight League games, Chelsea followed it up with a 2-1 defeat of the previously undefeated Tottenham. They followed that up with wins over Manchester City, West Brom, Sunderland, Palace, Bournemouth and Stoke to give them 13 straight wins. They then suffered just their third loss in the League against Tottenham in their first match of the new year. Chelsea bounced back with a 3-0 win over defending champions Leicester and a 2-0 win over lowly Hull, before a hard fought 1 all draw with Liverpool. They then beat Arsenal 3-1 before a 1 all draw with Burnley. Since then they have won 3 straight games against mid table sides before dropping their game to Crystal Palace 2-1. They have won both of their following games against Man City and Bournemouth before losing 2-0 to Man United last week. They bounced back with a 4-2 win over Southampton and a 3-0 hiding of Everton last week.
Middlesbrough opened with a stingy defence which saw them collect a 1 all draw with Stoke, a 2-1 defeat of Sunderland before holding West Brom to a scoreless draw. It would be another 2 months before they’d win again, beating Bournemouth 2-0 on October 29. Over a month later they beat lowly Hull 1-0 and a fortnight later, thumped Swansea 3-0. They then went 16 straight League games without a victory, losing 10 games and picking up 6 draws, before picking up a 1-0 win over last placed Sunderland. Last week they produced a good 2 all draw with Manchester City.
Chelsea defence v Boro spirit – Middlesbrough are just 1 more loss away from relegation and will be playing this game with nothing to lose. Expect them to be enthusiastic and energetic.
Despite Boro’s extra motivation to perform here, asking them to beat the best team in the League on their own turf is a huge ask. Chelsea should pick up the win here.