Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough haven’t had the easiest run of fixtures as of late as they have had been pitted against Arsenal and Manchester City in two of their last three matches. But credit must go to the ‘Boro as they have gone to both The Emirates and The Etihad and come away with creditable draws.
Today doesn’t get any easier as they play host to fellow title chasers Chelsea who have won their last five successive matches and will be looking to make it six. It’s not just about keeping the winning streak going it will also be to make sure that they don’t lose ground on their title rivals who all played yesterday.
Before the international break Chelsea were in scintillating form as breezed past Everton at Stamford Bridge on their to a 5-0 thrashing. It was without question the best that Chelsea have played since winning the title back in 2014/15 and that result has put the rest of the Premier League on notice.
Eden Hazard was a constant menace throughout that game as he tormented Everton’s hapless defence, he was an injury doubt but he has been passed fit to play this afternoon as has Diego Costa who was pulled from international duty due to a groin injury.
The conspiracy theorists will probably point to these being international injuries but Chelsea fans and Antonio Conte for that matter will be delighted that their two key players are fit and raring to go for the clash against Middlesbrough this afternoon.
You would imagine it will be a case of it’s not broke then don’t fix it and ultimately that will mean that John Terry and Willian will have to once again make do with the subs bench. It’s probably harsh on Willian but right now you can’t really make a case for dropping any of the starting eleven.
Hosts Middlesbrough are unbeaten in three matches but they start the weekend in 15th and there is a slight chance at the time of reading that they could even drop into the bottom three. They may be hard to beat as of late but the fact that they have only won twice all season will make for stark reading.
That’s not to discredit their impressive results away at Arsenal and Manchester City. A resolute performance in North London where they stopped the Gunners from firing while they refused to give up against City and were rewarded with Marten De Roon’s stoppage time equaliser to earn a point.
They are going to have to show that same level of determination Today if they are to stop Chelsea making it six wins in a row but more importantly they are going to have to discover their scoring touch. A return of 10 goals in 11 games doesn’t make for particularly pleasant reading.
Although ‘Boro have been resolute as of late, I can’t see anything other Chelsea getting the joy of six on Teeside. Even with an international break cooling the momentum slightly the West London side are red hot right now and it will be a routine away win for me.