The Riverside Stadium will host Premier League opposition for the first time in this season’s EFL Cup, as Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea come to town. We look ahead to this EFL Cup semi-final first leg with our Middlesbrough vs Chelsea prediction and preview.
Middlesbrough vs Chelsea Stats: The Quick Hits
- The Opta supercomputer makes Chelsea favourites for this game, predicting they take a lead back to Stamford Bridge 59.6% of the time.
- Middlesbrough are playing in their first League Cup semi-final since the 2003-04 campaign, when they eliminated Arsenal en route to winning the trophy. They’ve progressed from each of their last three semi-final ties in the competition, also doing so in 1996-97 and 1997-98.
- Since being eliminated by Burnley on penalties in the fourth round in 2008-09, Chelsea have won each of their last 15 League Cup matches against sides from a lower division, scoring 53 goals in the process.
Championship side Middlesbrough will face their sternest League Cup test so far this season when they welcome Premier League side Chelsea to the Riverside Stadium on Tuesday night. Michael Carrick’s men have progressed to their first EFL Cup semi-final since the 2003-04 campaign, but have yet to face top-flight opposition in this year’s competition. That said, Boro’s impressive run has seen them play five consecutive away matches in their route to the semi-finals, scoring at least two goals in every game in victories against Huddersfield Town, Bolton Wanderers, Bradford City, Exeter City and Port Vale.
One of the casualties from that win against Port Vale is Middlesbrough’s EFL Cup top scorer, Morgan Rogers. He scored in their 3-0 quarter-final win but also picked up a booking, meaning he’ll have to serve a one-game ban for the first leg. Rogers has thrived in the competition this term, scoring in each of his last four such matches, also providing two assists in this run. The last player to score more than Rogers’ four in a single EFL Cup campaign for the club was Fabrizio Ravanelli in 1996-97 (nine).
Boro come into this tie on the back of consecutive defeats, but ran another Premier League side, Aston Villa, close in their FA Cup third round tie at the weekend. Carrick’s men held out for 87 minutes before a deflected strike from Matty Cash ultimately sealed their fate. On the whole it was a solid display from the home side who restricted Villa to just 0.75 expected goals – their fifth-lowest total in a game so far this season in all competitions.
They can also take heart from the fact that they’ve progressed from each of their last three semi-final ties in the competition, in 1996-97, 1997-98 and in their last outing in 2003-04, where they beat Arsenal on the way to winning the whole competition.
Chelsea’s 4-0 FA Cup win over Preston North End at the weekend was their third consecutive victory in all competitions. Armando Broja and Thiago Silva both scored headers, while Raheem Sterling curled in a free-kick and Enzo Fernández added a late fourth. After registering 2-1 and 3-2 wins over Crystal Palace and Luton Town respectively, it feels like the Blues are starting to find their groove under Mauricio Pochettino.
Speaking of the Chelsea boss, Pochettino has never lost against lower division opposition in the EFL Cup (W9 D2), though one of those two draws did result in a penalty shootout elimination (against Colchester United in September 2019 with Spurs). For their part, Chelsea have won each of their last 15 EFL Cup matches against sides from a lower division, scoring 53 goals in the process.
The Blues have had the luxury of home draws in their EFL run, knocking out AFC Wimbledon, Brighton, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United all from the comfort of Stamford Bridge.
In team news, Chelsea will be without Nicolas Jackson due to his AFCON call up, while Christopher Nkunku also misses out after being absent from the win over Preston with a hip injury. Full-backs Reece James and Marc Cucurella remain out, as do Robert Sanchez, Trevoh Chalobah and Roméo Lavia.
Michael Carrick will be without the suspended Rogers, cup-tied pair Finn Azaz and Sam Greenwood, and he’s lost Samuel Silvera and Riley McGree on international duty to the Asian Cup and Seny Dieng to the Africa Cup of Nations.
Middlesbrough vs Chelsea Head-to-Head
This has been a hugely one-sided encounter in recent memory. Chelsea have won their last nine meetings with Middlesbrough in all competitions by an aggregate score of 21-0. In English football history, only Liverpool have won more consecutive games against an opponent while keeping a clean sheet each time (10 vs West Bromwich Albion between 1997 and 2010).
This will be the fourth EFL Cup meeting between Middlesbrough (one win) and Chelsea (two wins), with all coming with Chelsea as a top-flight club and Middlesbrough in the second tier. This is the first such meeting since the 1998 final, and a 2-0 win for the Blues at Wembley.
The two sides’ most recent encounter came in an FA Cup quarter-final in 2022. Chelsea prevailed 2-0 that day thanks to goals from Romelu Lukaku and Hakim Ziyech.
Middlesbrough have scored at least twice in all five of their EFL Cup games so far this season, netting three goals in four of those. However, this will be their only home match in the competition this term and that may be cause for concern. The Riverside Stadium has been anything but a fortress recently, with Boro losing four of their last five home matches, conceding eight times across that spell.
Chelsea come into this off the back of three straight victories in all competitions, netting at least twice in all of those. Given their stuttering league campaign to date, expect them to go full strength here as winning the EFL Cup could be their likeliest route into Europe this season.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off in this match, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Middlesbrough vs Chelsea Prediction
Chelsea can take a huge step towards the Carabao Cup final with a win over Middlesbrough here. They are favourites to take a lead back to Stamford Bridge for the second leg, with the Blues winning 59.6% of the Opta supercomputer’s simulations of this tie.
As they proved against Aston Villa, though, Boro are capable of going toe-to-toe with Premier League opposition, and they have a 19.5% chance of springing an upset. The draw – which you feel both sides wouldn’t particularly mind – comes in at 20.8%.