Middlesbrough vs Chelsea

Riverside Stadium forms the backdrop for a high-stakes League Cup semi-final tie between Middlesbrough and Chelsea.

Following a gut-wrenching home defeat to Aston Villa in last week’s 1-0 FA Cup action, Middlesbrough’s attention shifts towards the League Cup, where they bid to reach the final for the first time since lifting the trophy in 2003/04. However, Michael Carrick’s side must upset the apple cart at the Riverside to achieve that feat, which could prove easier said than done after a two-game losing start to 2024. Adding to Carrick’s sizeable list of concerns, ‘Boro’ have lost nine consecutive encounters against Chelsea since a 2-1 home win in 2006, highlighting the size of the task at hand. That’s not the end of bad omens, with Middlesbrough losing four of their last five competitive matches on home turf (W1), frustratingly netting under 1.5 goals on each occasion.

On the other hand, visiting Chelsea coming into proceedings in high spirits after racking up a three-game winning streak in all competitions, bookended by an overwhelming 4-0 FA Cup win against Boro’s fellow Championship rivals Preston North End. With a top-four finish in the Premier League already looking like a pipe dream, conquering the League Cup for the first time since 2014/15 is Chelsea’s best chance of avoiding another trophyless campaign and saving some dignity. But Mauricio Pochettino’s men have fared terribly outside Stamford Bridge, losing four away games in a row before a nail-biting 3-2 victory at Premier League relegation candidates Luton Town last time out. Moreover, you’d need to go to early October for Chelsea’s most recent clean sheet on the road.

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