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Chelsea v Middlesbrough
The second leg of the EFL Cup semi-finals takes place this week, with the first at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea take on Middlesbrough with the Wembley arches in sight. We’ve not taken our eye off the ball though, with coverage continuing from across Europe and beyond with our experts supplying the usual range of expert football tips & predictions that you’ve come to expect.
Middlesbrough’s victory in the first leg at the Riverside Stadium leaves this tie perfectly poised as the teams meet again to complete the tie.
Chelsea have had a little break, having not played for ten days, and are overwhelming favourites to at least gain revenge and take the victory in the second leg, but there is a little bit more doubt about whether that will be enough to qualify for the final. Chelsea played the EFL Cup final in 2022, and in 2019, but haven’t won the competition since 2015.
Middlesbrough endured a frustrating match against Rotherham at the weekend, so don’t head into the second leg in a particularly positive mood, but they will be fully focused on trying to reach the EFL Cup final for the first time since they won the competition in 2004.
The bookmaker odds are against Middlesbrough, but what has happened on the last 10 occasions that the away side goes into the second leg with a single-goal lead..?
2019 Tottenham 1-0 Chelsea – Chelsea progress on penalties
2018 Man City 2-1 Bristol City – Man City progress by 2 goals
2017 Southampton 1-0 Liverpool – Southampton progress by 2 goals
2016 Everton 2-1 Man City – Man City progress by 1 goal
2015 Tottenham 1-0 Sheff Utd – Tottenham progress by 1 goal
2014 Sunderland 2-1 Man Utd – Sunderland progress on penalties
2012 Crystal Palace 1-0 Cardiff – Cardiff progress on penalties
2011 West Ham 2-1 Birmingham – Birmingham progress after extra time
2011 Ipswich 1-0 Arsenal – Arsenal progress by 2 goals
2010 Man City 2-1 Man Utd – Man Utd progress by 1 goal
Only four of the ten first leg leaders were able to progress after the second leg and only two of the ten actually won the second leg as well as the first.
Also, only Ipswich and Crystal Palace were Championship teams in this sample, neither of them ended up progressing to the final.
It is time to take a deeper look into the data and find some nuggets that could lead to a winning bet builder. There is plenty of information to use to find the right value picks
Chelsea v Middlesbrough Cheat Sheet
This Cheat Sheet and Preview was created using predicted lineups.
There are so many ways to use our Cheat Sheets, and we encourage you to find your own formula to pick a winning bet builder, however, if you’re unsure of how to use a Cheat Sheet, just click the link for some quick tips to help you make the most of it.
⚽ Match stats: Both teams underperforming their performance metrics
Chelsea’s goal underperformance has been much covered but it is worth highlighting that in the league they have scored 35 goals, worthy of 9th in the Premier League, but that comes from an xG of 42.1, which is second only to league leaders Liverpool.
However, they do only sit 8th for shots on target per match, a total that is slightly below 5 per match, and something that Mauricio Pochettino will probably be aiming to improve upon. They have missed the joint most big chances as well, alongside Liverpool again.
Whilst Chelsea’s defence isn’t quite as impressive, it is by no means a disaster, their xG concession of 30.2 tallies up fairly accurately with the 31 goals that they have conceded but this puts them 7th in the Premier League for this metric.
Middlesbrough obviously sit mid-table in the Championship, though still well in touch with the play-off race, however, it is a big ask for them to raise their game to a Premier League level to test the Chelsea defence.
The way that they did this in the first leg was to be very direct and use the pace of their young forwards to carry them up the field and get their chances that way.
Boro have shown themselves capable of creating chances, they sit 4th in the Championship for xG created and 3rd for shots on target per match, and their position at the top of the list for big chances missed shows simultaneously that they are creating chances but also have been fairly profligate in their finishing too.
In all likelihood, Boro will have to be very clinical to get a result in this leg and their forward options do not scream clinicality.
⚽ Chelsea to win @ 1.18
⚽ Chelsea (-1 handicap) @ 1.57
🎯 Shooting stats: Enzo to be a threat from the edge of the box
The way that Chelsea’s shot threats line up depends very much on how Pochettino sets his team up for the match. Christopher Nkunku is hoping to be fit for the match, but he is not currently priced for shots, he would be of great interest if this changes if it becomes apparent that he is playing.
Noni Madueke is another high-shot volume player for Chelsea, but his starting berth isn’t guaranteed either, Cole Palmer will play but the odds for his shots are short, even though he peppered the Boro goal in the first leg.
With Middlesbrough likely to sit in with a compact formation, it could be worth looking at players who may shoot from the edge of the box. Enzo Fernandez plays that little bit deeper but he has averaged 2 shots per match this season, this game seems particularly well set up for the World Cup winner to indulge those attacking tendencies.
Hayden Hackney looks to be overpriced for Middlesbrough. He played a little higher than usual in the first leg, and with that working out well for Michael Carrick, the suspicions are that he may play more advanced again at Stamford Bridge. If that is the case then he could be worth backing in the shots market.
⚽ Hayden Hackney to have 1+ shots @ 1.36
⚽ Hayden Hackney to have 2+ shots @ 2.87
⚽ Enzo Fernandez to have 2+ shots @ 1.40
⚽ Enzo Fernandez to have 3+ shots @ 2.38
🛑 Fouls stats: Defending the wide channels could cause some fouls
Middlesbrough are likely to play a 5-man defence, but Carrick will be sweating on the fitness of Isaiah Jones who tweaked his hamstring against Rotherham and he is by far and away the best candidate for the RWB role in that formation. If Jones does start then he should be on the list for potential foulers.
Ben Chilwell came on against Fulham in Chelsea’s last match before the break so logic would dictate that ten days on Chilwell should be ready for a start here. If so, he will be directly up against Jones or perhaps a different running threat on the Middlesbrough right.
The final player to deserve a mention here is Hackney. He is a local lad with great passion, it will mean everything for him to get the club that he has been at for over half of his life to a major domestic cup final.
Finally, Raheem Sterling to be fouled looks a tempting price. The England man is a very clever dribbler who always seems to tempt those fouls in and around the box.
⚽ Ben Chilwell to commit 1+ foul @ 1.44
⚽ Hayden Hackney to commit 2+ fouls @ 1.61
⚽ Raheem Sterling to be fouled 2+ times @ 1.57
* I recommend waiting for confirmed team line-ups before placing any bets.
* All odds displayed correct at the time of publishing.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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