Chelsea v Middlesbrough: Blues’ breathing space gives Boro a chance

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It’s been a funny old season for Middlesbrough. Fans will have been filled with optimism before a ball was kicked back in the summer following some of the big names that arrived on Teesside. But it’s fair to say things haven’t exactly gone according to plan.

The departure of Aitor Karanka back in March left interim boss Steve Agnew with a mammoth task. At the time of the Spaniard’s exit, Boro were three points off safety. Eight games later though, that gap has stretched to seven.

But with three games still to play, they can still avoid the drop. However, they’ll have to do it the hard way…

Defeat away at Chelsea on Monday night would seal the North East outfit’s fate – they’d be gone.

And priced at 14/1, our traders clearly don’t fancy Middlesbrough to cause an upset.

They could nick a point though (13/2) and that would be enough to keep them in the race for survival.

Granted, they have to face a Chelsea side who are within touching distance of lifting the Premier League trophy, but defeat for Tottenham Hotspur away at West Ham on Friday night has given Chelsea a comfortable lead at the top.

In short, they can afford to drop points between now and the end of the season – and don’t have to worry all that much about a Spurs side now four points behind them in the table.

The last time these two sides met, Chelsea ran out 1-0 victors thanks to a Diego Costa goal.

It’s 7/1 for a repeat of that result, while 16/1 says the Chelsea striker gets himself on the scoresheet in another 1-0 victory for the hosts.

Sticking with that scoreline though, we make it a whopping 45/1 for the visitors to leave London with a 1-0 victory to their name.

If you think Boro will come out on top here, you’d fancy them to do so by the most slender of margins – which makes that one of our best bets of the day.

As for goalscorers, it’s no surprise to see Costa priced at 5/2 to get the ball rolling, while Middlesbrough’s top scorer, Alvaro Negredo, is 7/2 to net at any time.

The former Manchester City ace has netted in three of Boro’s last six outings, and he has a habit of scoring against the big boys in the division.

Of his 18 Premier League goals for Middlesbrough and Man City respectively, eight have come against City themselves, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Leicester City.

As for how many goals we’re likely to see – the answer is simple… few.

Despite finding themselves in dangerous territory near the bottom of the table, Boro have proved a tough unit to break down this season, conceding just 45 goals – that’s a better record than half of the division.

With that in mind, there could be plenty of value in backing either Under 2.5 goals at 31/20 or Chelsea to win & Under 2.5 goals at 8/13.

It’s also worth noting that Boro have scored in just two of their last 13 clashes with the Blues, and have failed to find the net against them in over 10 years.

Does that suggest Thibaut Courtois will have very little to do on Monday night? 6/10 says the visitors fail to find the net.

Click here for a full list of Chelsea v Middlesbrough odds.

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

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Alex Apati

Having graduated from Birmingham City University with a degree in Creative Writing with English, Alex joined the News team following a three year stint working for Ladbrokes behind the counter. When he's not watching darts, he's throwing them. Failing that you'll find him YouTubeing Thierry Henry's greatest Arsenal goals.