Rafa Benitez take his Chelsea side to the Riverside for an FA Cup fifth-round clash with Championship play-off hopefuls Middlesbrough on Wednesday night.
The pressure continues to mount on Benitez and his under-performing side and a big performance is needed.
The European champions will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing 2-0 loss at the Etihad to Manchester City over the weekend but face a resilient Middlesbrough side.The loss in Manchester means that Chelsea are now seven points adrift of the top two and that any hopes of a title challenge have well and truly evaporated.
Middlesbrough are also a team going through a rough patch. They have lost seven of their nine championship games since the turn of the year and currently find themselves just outside the Championship play-off places.Tony Mowbray’s side would love a result on Wednesday, as they look to restart their play-off hopes with the business end of the season quickly approaching. Despite the Teesiders losing only three of their last 22 FA Cup matches at home, they have struggled against Chelsea. It has been five games since they managed a goal against their London opponents, with the previous encounter resulting in a 5-0 loss. However, with the added incentive of a tie with Manchester United in the next round, Middlesbrough will be fully focused on the challenge at hand.
Despite Benitez’ tendency to rotate goalkeepers during the cup competition, the FA Cup is Chelsea’s real chance of success this season and Petr Cech should start in goal. Fernando Torres and John Terry will be hoping to start on Wednesday, after being named as substitutes for the Manchester City game. Ryan Bertrand is expected to start, with Juan Mata being rested. Oscar will continue his development by getting the nod for the game at the Riverside.
Middlesbrough will be without on-loan Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran against his parent club. Frontman Lukas Jutkiewicz is a doubt with an ankle injury, but Scott McDonald will start up front.
Players to Watch
Oscar should start for Chelsea tonight and the young Brazilian is a real live-wire. Although he tends to blow hot and cold, he has the ability to unlock the Middlesbrough defence with his mesmerising dribbling and potent shooting ability.
Middlesbrough front-man Scott McDonald has made a career out of scoring simple goals. The Australian striker is always in the right place at the right time. John Terry will want to prove a point to Rafael Benitez and will need to be at his best if he is to keep ‘Skippy’ scoreless on Wednesday night.
Chelsea are in disarray at present, but they will have to much for a Middlesbrough side that are currently in free-fall. Take Chelsea to be winning at half-time and full-time at 10/11 with Boylesports.com.