EPL: Chelsea set to relegate Middlesbrough in tonight’s showdown
Middlesbrough can be relegated from the Premier League if they lose at top-of-the-table Chelsea on Monday Night Football.
Boro remain in the bottom three heading into the game, with seven points between themselves and safety after Swansea’s win over Everton on Saturday.
Defeat at Stamford Bridge means Boro would join north-east rivals Sunderland in the Championship next season but a draw or win in west London would keep their slim hopes alive at least until next weekend.
Chelsea are edging closer to title glory after Tottenham lost at West Ham on Friday. Victory in front of the Sky cameras on Monday would stretch the gap to seven points and mean they would seal the trophy with another win against West Brom on Friday Night Football.
The Blues could win their 300th game at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League, with only Manchester United (347) and Arsenal (305) having picked up more victories on home turf in the competition.
Gaston Ramirez is likely to miss Middlesbrough’s crunch trip to London as he struggles with a pelvic problem.
Skipper Grant Leadbitter has returned to training after missing the last three games with a hamstring strain, as has Adlene Guedioura (groin), but Victor Valdes (ribs) and Daniel Ayala (ankle) remain doubtful.
David Luiz and N’Golo Kante are also injury doubts for the Premier League leaders, but Thibaut Courtois will be available.
Luiz was replaced late on in last Sunday’s win at Everton and Kante has a thigh problem but both will be assessed before Monday evening’s match.
Chelsea have won each of their last six Premier League games against Middlesbrough without conceding a single goal.
Middlesbrough have gone seven Premier League games at Stamford Bridge without scoring, last netting there in September 2001 in a 2-2 draw.
Cesc Fabregas needs one more assist to reach 10 for the season. Should he do this, he’d be the first player to record 10 Premier League assists in six different seasons (Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney have both managed this in five seasons).
The Blues’ next win at Stamford Bridge will be their 300th in the Premier League, becoming just the third team to reach that milestone for Premier League home wins
Coming in to this round of games, this fixture sees the highest scoring Premier League team in 2016-17 (Chelsea – 72 goals) and the lowest scoring side (Middlesbrough – 26 goals, same as Sunderland).
Middlesbrough have mustered a league-low 93 shots on target this season in the Premier League. Chelsea have managed more than this in their home games alone (97).
Chelsea have already equalled the points tally of Leicester City in 2015-16 (81) and if they win their remaining four Premier League games they will reach 93 points. Only one team in the history of the Premier League has won more than this – Chelsea in 2004-05 (95 points).
Middlesbrough have 28 points with three games remaining. The fewest points won by a team to avoid relegation from the Premier League is 34 – set by West Bromwich Albion in 2004-05.
Middlesbrough went down in the game against City in a blaze of glory. We saw something from them in the game that we haven’t seen for a few weeks. The problem is they have to win this game and it could leave them open at the back.
That’s perfect for the way Chelsea are set up and I can’t see them being stopped, especially in front of their own fans at Stamford Bridge. I do fancy Middlesbrough to score but it won’t be enough to halt Chelsea.
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1 (10/1 with Sky Bet) Sky Sports