Chelsea will be looking to seal their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals against Manchester United with a trip to English Championship side Middlesbrough. Middlesbrough will be confident they can cause a big upset.
Chelsea have been very inconsistent away from home in the Premier League with seven wins, three draws and four defeats so far. They go into this game off the back of an away defeat to Manchester City. This is Chelsea’s only realistic chance of securing some silverware for this season.
Middlesbrough sit just outside the Championship play-off places which means they will be in with a chance of getting promoted to the Premier League this season. As for the FA Cup, they should be confident because they have a solid record at home this season of 11 wins, one draw and five defeats.
Tony Mowbray: “Believe me if I was on the terraces I would be moaning as well. The nature of the goals we lose are very frustrating for us all. We can’t keep giving cheap goals away. And yet I’m sure the supporters saw a team that was striving and driving to get back into the game in the second half and we very, very nearly did. We are all aware of the situation but it’s important that we try to stay positive.”
Rafa Benitez: “We are training really well and the atmosphere is good inside. My relationship with the players is fantastic. I have a good group who are working hard and are keen to learn, they were disappointed like me after the defeat. The competition for the top four will go until the end of the season, that was my opinion before and it still is now. It’s really important for us, but a top side has to try and win every competition and every game. We will pick the best players for every game in our consideration because we know how the players train and how they are.”
Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray will be without a trio of ineligible players. Midfielder Josh McEachran has not played in the competition to date under the terms of his loan agreement with the Blues, while Kieron Dyer and Sammy Ameobi are cup-tied. Dyer played for former club QPR in a 1-1 third-round draw with West Brom, while Ameobi, who on Monday joined Boro on loan from neighbours Newcastle for the rest of the season, started the Magpies’ 2-0 defeat at Championship Brighton at the same stage of the competition. Mowbray will also be without striker Lukas Jutkiewicz (ankle) and central defender Jonathan Woodgate (calf), although the latter has a chance of returning for the league clash with league leaders Cardiff at the weekend. In addition, Stuart Parnaby (hamstring tear), Justin Hoyte (hip) and Julio Arca (toe) remain on the sidelines.
Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta will both miss out. Centre-back Cahill has been struck down by a virus ahead of the trip to the Riverside, while right-back Azpilicueta is sidelined with discomfort in his leg. Interim manager Rafael Benitez plans to rotate his squad in a bid to deal with the busy fixture list, meaning captain John Terry may be rested. Long-term absentee Oriol Romeu continues to miss out with a knee injury.
Projected Lineups :
Bikey, Williams, McManus, Friend
Carayol, Leadbitter, Dyer, Hailliday
Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Bertrand
Ramires, Mikel, Marin
Oscar, Torres, Moses
Key Stats :
- This will be the fourth meeting between Middlesbrough and Chelsea in the FA Cup proper; of the previous three ties, Chelsea have won two (including the 1997 final) and ‘Boro have won one.
- In all competitions, Chelsea have won their last five against Middlesbrough without conceding a single goal (13 goals scored).
- The Teesiders have only lost three of their last 22 FA Cup games at the Riverside Stadium (W15 D4).
Since their most recent relegation from the Premier League, ‘Boro have been eliminated from both of their FA Cup ties against top-flight sides, including a replay defeat to Sunderland last season.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in 26 FA Cup games, though this run does include a penalty shootout defeat to Everton in February 2011.
The Londoners’ record of 26 unbeaten FA Cup games is the longest ever run without defeat in the FA Cup (next best Blackburn Rovers on 23, ended in 1886).
- Since their semi-final defeat to Liverpool in April 2006, the Blues have lost just one of 37 FA Cup games outright (W30 D6).
- Chelsea have won seven and lost none of their last nine away games in the competition, scoring 22 and conceding just six.
- The Blues have only lost one of their last 52 FA Cup games against lower ranked sides; losing 0-1 to Barnsley in March 2008.
Chelsea haven’t had the best of records on the road under Rafael Benitezand Middlesbrough aren’t in the best of position in the Championship. The Riverside will be buzzing, hoping for an upset while Chelsea will be on the brink of elimination and more turmoil as recent news has that Rafa Benitez and John Terry were involved in a major bust up at Cobham. Nonetheless, 1-1, which would mean a replay at the Bridge.