By Andrew Robinson | Middlesbrough v Chelsea, FA Cup
Tonight sees a clash of two clubs going through a bit of a mini crisis in their respective leagues. Lucky then, that this is an FA Cup tie.
Beleaguered Chelsea gaffer Rafa Benitez takes his side to the no doubt cold and wet Riverside tonight to take on Tony Mowbray’s Middlesbrough, with both teams looking to get out of something of a rut.
The interim Blues boss is reportedly at war with his squad after their defeat against Manchester City at the weekend, with the coup being led by, yep you guessed it, England’s brave John Terry.
Why doesn’t Roman Abramovich just give him the job? He tries to control the boss anyway, but that’s a point for another day.
The FA Cup is probably Chelsea’s only real chance of a trophy this year, as they looked poor against Sparta Prague even though they scraped through with a last minute goal and they’ll want to retain the trophy they picked up last season, which took their total to four in the last six seasons, an impressive feat.
The Blues are 4/9 to get a much-needed win tonight and you can have a flutter on them retaining the FA Cup at 6/1. Not a bad shout when you think about how well they perform when it comes to knock-out competitions.
But, they won’t have it their own way, Boro will be looking to end an awful run of form that has seen them slip out of the Championship playoffs.
They have won just two of the last nine, against Leeds and Aldershot, and they have problems when it comes to selection tonight with Josh McEachran unable to play against his parent club and Kieron Dyer and Sammy Ameobi both cup tied.
Boro will also be without Lukas Jutkiewicz, Jonathan Woodgate, while Stuart Parnaby, Justin Hoyte and Julio Arca remain out.
Mowbray’s men are 6/1 to blow away the cobwebs and get their season back on track tonight. The winner of the tie will take on Manchester United at Old Trafford in the next round, a mouth-watering clash if Chelsea go through and a big payday for Boro, so they both have reasons to push for the win tonight.
Any good performances from Chelsea in recent weeks have come on the back of Juan Mata and Frank Lampard turning up with their A game, and they usually pop up with a goal or two.
Mata is 11/2 to open the scoring at the Riverside, while Lampard is on offer at 5/1 with Paddy Power to get Chelsea’s cup run started in earnest.
The host will be relying on local youngster Curtis Main to pose a threat to Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic and he’s been in great form recently, bagging three goals in February, in a poor Boro side.
He’s on offer at 10/1 to open the scoring and the same price to hammer home the final goal of the game.