Chelsea will welcome Middlesbrough in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening.
Michael Carrick’s side managed to beat the Blues 1-0 in the first leg so they are currently leading in this tie. However, it won’t be easy for them to beat the West London club away from home.
Chelsea have endured a disappointing campaign this term but they have started to string positive results in recent weeks, winning four out of the last five games in all competitions. So, they will be confident ahead of this fixture.
On the other hand, after qualifying for the Championship playoffs last campaign, Middlesbrough started the season poorly, but they have started to climb up the table in recent times and Carrick’s side are currently only three points behind the playoffs spot. So, Middlesbrough will be hoping to avoid defeat against Chelsea in this fixture to secure their place in the final of the EFL Cup.
How to watch
The game will kick off at 8pm UK time and the match will be televised live on Sky Sports.
Fans can also buy tickets for Chelsea vs Middlesbrough through an online ticket marketplace or via the official club channels.
Chelsea have a long list of injury absentees at the moment as Christopher Nkunku, Romeo Lavia, Marc Cucurella, Wesley Fofana, Reece James, Robert Sanchez and Lesley Ugochukwu are all set to remain sidelined for this game due to their respective injuries.
In addition, Trevoh Chalobah has returned to first-team training after recovering from his injury but this game may come too early for him to feature.
Nicolas Jackson is also unavailable for selection in this encounter as he is currently out with his national team, Senegal, in AFCON.
As for Middlesbrough, they will be without Darragh Lenihan, Tom Smith, Emmanuel Latte Lath and Alex Bangura owing to injury problems, while Seny Dieng, Sam Silvera and Riley McGree are also unavailable for selection in this fixture due to their international duties.
Pochettino is set to deploy a 4-2-3-1 formation in this fixture with Dorde Petrovic likely to be in goal. Axel Disasi and Thiago Silva might be paired up at the heart of Chelsea’s backline, while Malo Gusto and Levi Colwill could be in the fullback position. So, Benoit Badiashile and Ben Chilwell might have to settle for a place on the bench.
Moises Caicedo could start as the deep-lying playmaker with Enzo Fernandez in the box-to-box role, pushing Conor Gallagher into the attacking midfield position.
Raheem Sterling is likely to commence on the left-wing, while Cole Palmer should be on the opposite side. In that case, Noni Madueke and Mykhaylo Mudryk will have to make do with a place on the bench.
Chelsea don’t have any prolific striker and following Jackson’s absence, Armando Broja is the only striker option Pochettino has at his disposal at the moment. So, the Albanian is likely to lead the line for the Blues in this encounter.
Expected Chelsea line-up vs Middlesbrough
Petrovic; Gusto, Disasi, Silva, Colwill; Caicedo, Fernández; Sterling, Gallagher, Palmer; Broja
For Middlesbrough, Carrick is also likely to go with the 4-2-3-1 formation against the Blues. Tom Glover could commence in goal for the visitors, while Matthew Clark and Dael Fry are expected to be at the heart of the defence. Luke Ayling and Rav van den Berg might be the fullbacks for Middlesbrough.
Jonathan Howson and Daniel Barlaser should be in the midfield pivot position with Morgan Rogers in the number ten role. Hayden Hackney and Lucas Engel could be deployed on the flanks, while Marcus Forss is likely to be in the centre-forward position.
Expected Middlesbrough line-up vs Chelsea
Glover; Ayling, Fry, Clark, Van den Berg; Howson, Barlaser; Hackney, Rogers, Engel; Forss
Palmer has been enjoying a stellar campaign after joining the Blues from Manchester City last summer. The youngster had several opportunities in the first leg to put the tie to bed but he couldn’t manage to showcase the cutting edge in front of the goal so Chelsea eventually had to endure a disappointing defeat.
Therefore, the West Londoners will be hoping that the Englishman will be able to perform at his best in this encounter and help his side qualify for the final by defeating Middlesbrough.
Sterling started the season promisingly but he has found it difficult to showcase consistency this term. But, the former Man City star is an extremely talented player and possesses the qualities to guide his team to victory in this game single-handedly. Therefore, the visitors will have to keep him in close attention.
After returning from a serious injury issue that kept him out of action last season, Armando Broja had the opportunity to secure his place in Chelsea’s starting eleven this season as the Blues don’t have a top-class striker option.
However, he hasn’t been able to showcase his best yet, but Pochettino will be hoping that the Albanian will be able to help Chelsea win this game by putting his name on the score-sheet.
For Middlesbrough, Rogers has enjoyed a productive campaign in the EFL Cup this season and he needs to showcase some magic to help his side reach the final of this competition.
Hackney scored the solitary goal of the game in the first leg and the 21-year-old will be hoping to conjure something similar once again in this fixture to overcome the Blues’ challenge.
Middlesbrough are likely to come under a lot of pressure in this game so their backline needs to be at the top of their game to repel the opposition attack. In addition, their goalkeeper, Glover will have to display a flawless performance to help his side keep a clean-sheet and avoid defeat in this encounter.
Chelsea are expected to control the pace of the game with the positional play and Middlesbrough will look to sit deep and stay in shape. Carrick’s team will be trying to frustrate Chelsea and hurt the Blues in counter-attack. So, the story of this game is unlikely to be anything different from the first leg.
Pochettino’s side are expected to start the game on the front foot and they will be looking to score as quickly as possible. If that were to happen then it would be extremely demoralising for the visitors. So, they need to be careful during the first 20 minutes of the game.
However, Chelsea have enough firepower to defeat Middlesbrough and in addition, they will be at home. Man City and Liverpool have struggled this season against the Blues at Stamford Bridge. So, it is going to be extremely difficult for Carrick’s side to come away with a positive result from this fixture.
Therefore, Chelsea are expected to reach the final of the EFL Cup this season by beating Middlesbrough in this encounter. However, it is going to be interesting to see how the game eventually unfolds on Tuesday night. Chelsea 3-1 Middlesbrough
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