Middlesbrough have endured a difficult 2013 in the Championship. Since the turn of the year they have won one, drawn one and lost seven in the league. Despite the recent poor run, Tony Mowbray’s side still sit seventh in the Championship and are just one point shy of the play-offs.
Boro spent eleven consecutive seasons in the Premier League from 1998-2009, a period during which they won the League Cup in 2004 and reached the UEFA Cup final in 2006, and returning to the top division will be their main aim this campaign. Nevertheless, if they are able to cause a surprise and beat Chelsea the reward is high, with a money-spinning trip to Manchester United in the quarter-finals on offer.
Chelsea appear to be in crisis at the moment with the pressure on Rafael Benitez increasing by the day. With it seemingly inevitable that the Spaniard will leave when his contract runs out this summer, there is a real danger that the Blues’ season will drift away from them.
Champions League qualification is the main priority for the west Londoners and they are just about on course for that as they currently lie fourth in the Premier League table. However, Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Manchester City and Tottenham’s 3-2 win at West Ham on Monday night saw Spurs overtake Chelsea in third place, and with Arsenal now only two points behind the Blues in fifth Benitez’s side need to ensure they finish their league campaign strongly. The Stamford Bridge outfit still have two chances of winning silverware this season, the FA Cup and Europa League, and while Benitez would surely like to add another trophy to his CV it is far more important for Chelsea to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
KICK-OFF: Wednesday, 7.45pm
Chelsea 2 (Kalou 2) Middlesbrough 0, Premier League, January 2009
Middlesbrough 0 Chelsea 5 (Kalou, Belletti, Wheater og, Lampard, Malouda), Premier League, October 2008
Chelsea 1 (Carvalho) Middlesbrough 0, Premier League, March 20008
Middlesbrough 0 Chelsea 2 (Drogba, Alex), Premier League, October 2007
Middlesbrough have not scored in their last five games against Chelsea.
The Teesiders have lost only three of their last 22 FA Cup games at the Riverside Stadium, winning 15 and drawing four.
Tony Mowbray’s side have been knocked out by Premier League clubs in three of the last four seasons, and have not beaten one themselves since seeing off West Ham United in a fifth round replay in 2009.
Chelsea’s record of 26 unbeaten FA Cup games is the longest ever run without defeat in the FA Cup (the next best run is Blackburn Rovers with 23 unbeaten games, a run ended in 1886).
The Londoners have won seven and lost none of their last nine away games in this competition, scoring 22 goals and conceding just six.
The seven-time FA Cup winners have knocked out the last 10 Championship clubs they have been drawn against, and their last defeat against such a side was in the 2008 quarter-finals, when Barnsley beat them 1-0 at Oakwell.
Middlesbrough to win: 15/2
Chelsea to win: 2/5
TV: Highlights on ITV4 at 10.30pm.
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