A pivotal weekend in the Premier League concludes this week with another Monday Night Football. This week the action comes from Stamford Bridge as title chasing Chelsea take on a Middlesbrough side who will be fighting for their lives.
A win here will move Chelsea to within three points of the title while defeat for Middlesbrough would condemn them to being the second side relegated from the division this season so there are no lack of incentives ahead of this match.
It has been a quite brilliant season for Chelsea if you take out the first month or so of it. They have been the most consistent side in the Premier League and at some point over the next fortnight they will rightly be crowned the champions of the competition. How quickly that happens depends on them but they know how to get over the line.
Chelsea have been wonderful in attacking areas this season with Eden Hazard and Diego Costa two of the best forwards in the league. If the title race was a bit tighter then there might have been more of a focus on their defence which has suddenly become very leaky since the turn of the year but they’ve had so much in hand it hasn’t mattered.
In many ways Middlesbrough have been the complete opposite this season. They have struggled throughout and whether it is here or their agony is prolonged they will be saying goodbye to the top flight at some point in the next couple of weeks. The chief reason for that has been a lack of goals which doesn’t bode well here.
Defensively you would have to say Middlesbrough have been ok this season. It isn’t very often that a side goes down conceding just 45 goals from 35 matches. Only Southampton outside the top seven have conceded fewer than that this season but even Sunderland have scored more than them and that is really saying something.
David Luiz and N’Golo Kante are said to be doubts for the home side ahead of this match. Both have injuries which are hampering them but decisions haven’t been made on either yet.
Middlesbrough look set to be without Victor Valdes and Daniel Ayala once again while Gaston Ramirez is likely to miss the match as well. Grant Leadbitter has a chance of being involved though.
Chelsea go into this match as one of the shortest favourites of the season and I guess in many ways we can’t really argue with that because in their last two away matches Middlesbrough have shipped four goals. If Boro concede early in this match then they are going to have to open right up to get back into it else they’ll be down and that is when this could get messy.
There is hope for Middlesbrough though. Crystal Palace have won at the Bridge fairly recently and Chelsea’s kept their first clean sheet since the 22nd January last week so they are shipping goals which Boro might be able to take advantage of.
That said I think Tottenham’s defeat on Friday night will free Chelsea up to play with a style and a pizazz which will be far too much for Middlesbrough here. If Middlesbrough score then great but even if they don’t Chelsea can turn on the style to ensure over 3 goals lands or at the very least delivers a push.
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