Middlesbrough v Chelsea: Writing on the wall for Championship hosts

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Chelsea travel to Middlesbrough in the latest stage of their attempted FA Cup defence, and the Premier League outfit are strong 2/5 favourites to triumph in normal time.

Whilst it seems highly unlikely that Rafa Benitez will remain at Stamford Bridge beyond this season, successful FA Cup retention is perhaps the only thing that could win him an extended contract.

And with that considered, Benitez is likely to choose as strong a side as possible, making Chelsea tempting 23/20 shots to win this game giving up a goal head-start.

The Blues have a tremendous recent record against ‘Boro, having won each of the last five encounters of the pair, and they would have overcome a one-goal handicap on four of those occasions.

It is also well worth noting that the Stamford Bridge outfit, who beat lower league opposition 4-0 to reach this fifth round tie, haven’t conceded in the last five meetings of these sides.

Another Chelsea clean sheet looks good at 11/8, whilst an away win in which the Blues don’t concede appeals to an even greater extent as a 17/10 chance.

But even if the home side are to draw a blank, the 13 strikes that have emanated from the past five clashes between the teams suggest goals aplenty should be expected.

Chelsea are 21/20 to score two or three times in the match, which deserves some attention, whilst they are 13/2 to win 2-0 for what would be a third time in their last five games opposing ‘Boro.

Punters envisaging a home triumph will take heart from the hosts’ last win over Chelsea coming at the Riverside Stadium however.

Tony Mowbray’s men are 7/1 to pile the pressure on Benitez by inflicting defeat upon his visitors in 90 minutes, whilst they are 7/2 to force extra-time.

As aforementioned though, with an expected strong first 11 set to line up at the Riverside, Chelsea should simply have too much class for their hosts.

Juan Mata has been in sensational form for the Blues this term, and he is 5/1 to add to his 17 seasonal strikes with the opener here, and 13/8 to find the net in a Chelsea win.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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