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Middlesbrough v Chelsea
The first of two EFL Cup semi-finals takes place at the Riverside as Michael Carrick’s Boro take on Chelsea 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.
The EFL Cup feels like it is a trophy that Middlesbrough have a strong connection with. They have reached the final three times, all within the last 30 years, including a win in 2004 sealed with goals from Joseph-Desire Job and Boudewijn Zenden, who was a Chelsea loanee at the time.
However, it has slowly but surely become the domain of the big clubs in the same vein as the FA Cup and Premier League trophies. Only Swansea City and Birmingham City have broken the big club stranglehold since Middlesbrough’s win 20 years ago.
The EFL Cup has often been an opportunity for managers to bring in a maiden trophy in their spell at a club, think Erik ten Hag only last year, but also José Mourinho at both Man Utd and Chelsea. Mauricio Pochettino would dearly love to follow in those footsteps this year to settle some doubters even at this early stage as Chelsea’s manager.
This is the first time that a Championship side has reached the semi-finals since 2021 when Brentford played Tottenham. No Championship side has reached the EFL Cup final since Cardiff in 2012, though League Two Bradford City did make the final the year after.
There is a slightly different dynamic at play with this being a two-legged tie, but there are still plenty of interesting angles to look at to produce a bet builder for this important match for both sides.
Middlesbrough v Chelsea 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 better on the spreadsheet than on the points column
Chelsea may be languishing in mid-table but there are a lot of positive aspects of their performances, especially on the attacking side of the game.
Chelsea have generated the second-highest xG in the Premier League, behind only Liverpool. The majority of that xG has fallen to Nicolas Jackson, who is now away at AFCON, so Armando Broja is expected to slot into that #9 position. Cole Palmer and Enzo Fernandez are the next two individuals on the xG list for Chelsea, and both have provided more goal threat than they were probably expected to when signed.
Chelsea’s defensive stats aren’t as strong as their attacking ones, but their xG conceded numbers are still top half for the Premier League.
Middlesbrough are Chelsea’s equivalent in the Championship, Sitting exactly in the middle of the table, but with generally top 6 performance data. Their attack and defence are good, with their big chance, shots on target and xG creation all in the top six. Boro are 7th in the Championship for xG against.
The main trait that both teams share is a profligacy in front of goal. There is a chance for Christopher Nkunku to be fit for this match, which would help Chelsea, but Boro are top of the Championship for big chances missed and Chelsea are second by 1 to Liverpool.
Middlesbrough are likely to play similar tactics to their FA Cup tie against Aston Villa, playing on the counter-attack, and it was only a lucky deflected effort from Matty Cash late on that gave Villa the win. First legs are also often a bit cagey knowing that the tie will be decided in another match.
⚽ Middlesbrough double chance @ 2.40
⚽ Both teams to score @ 1.57
🎯 Shooting stats: Jones the leading threat for Boro
We have established already that both sides are pretty good going forward in terms of creating chances and taking shots, so this could be a fruitful market for bet building.
From a Middlesbrough perspective, Emmanuel Latte Lath has been the most regular shooter in the club. However, there are doubts as to where he will play, with a suspension to Morgan Rogers and Asian Cup call-ups for Riley McGree and Sam Silvera meaning that Latte Lath could be the one pushed out to a wide forward position.
Instead, the value could come from Isaiah Jones. He hasn’t been the most prolific of shooters over the last couple of seasons, but he has produced a long run of shots taken recently, and, similarly to Aston Villa at the weekend, Jones has the pace to be the one to get in behind Chelsea.
With no Nicolas Jackson, Armando Broja may be worth a look in the markets to see if he can be reliable to replicate the shot volume of the Senegalese #9. Cole Palmer and Enzo Fernandez could be the ones to concentrate on, with Fernandez given more licence to get forward than when he was initially brought to England.
⚽ Cole Palmer to have 3+ shots @ 1.91
⚽ Enzo Fernandez to have 2+ shots @ 1.67
⚽ Isaiah Jones to have 2+ shots @ 2.0
⚽ Isaiah Jones to have 3+ shots @ 4.0
⛳ Corners stats: High volume of corners expected at the Riverside
Middlesbrough are one of the highest corner volume teams in the Championship with almost 12 per match that they are involved in.
They usually have the advantage at home by around 2 corners per match, and although Chelsea are a Premier League team, and a good one on their day, the Blues actually do concede more corners than they win during regular league play.
It is difficult to predict which team may take the most corners because of the data and trying to balance the quality of Chelsea. Overall, Chelsea probably deserve slight favouritism because of their quality, and also the fact that Middlesbrough will probably allow Chelsea to come onto them in the game itself.
However, Chelsea are very short in that market, so Middlesbrough would be a better play from a value perspective.
The overs market on corners is worth a look as well given the data from both Middlesbrough and Chelsea’s seasons so far. There were 16 corners in the Middlesbrough v Aston Villa FA Cup tie on Saturday
⚽ Over 10.5 match corners @ 2.20
⚽ Middlesbrough corner match bet @ 3.60
🟨 Cards stats: Chelsea value for cards with Gallagher an obvious candidate
Chelsea are second in the Premier League for yellow card accumulation whereas Middlesbrough sit in the lower echelons of the Championship for the same.
In terms of individuals from a Boro perspective, Rav van den Berg could be an under-the-radar selection for a yellow card. Van den Berg is a central defender by trade but is comfortable in a right-back role, but it is not his natural position. Up against Raheem Sterling, it could be a testing afternoon for the youngster, and he has shown that he can pick up cards and fouls this season.
Conor Gallagher leads Chelsea’s fouls data by an exceptionally long way. With yellow cards expunged from previous stages, all players will have a little bit more freedom, to their play.
Gallagher has 6 yellows to his name already this season but is value for more given his previous foul volume.
⚽ Rav van den Berg to be shown a card @ 3.75
⚽ Conor Gallagher to be shown a card @ 3.50
⚽ Chelsea to receive the most cards @ 2.20
* 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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