Normally when a Premier League side faces lower-league opposition in the FA Cup, even from the Championship, fans expect the top-tier side to reach the next round without much work. However, that really isn’t the case with Middlesbrough this season.
Chris Wilder’s side started their 2021/22 FA Cup run as the big boys, beating League Two side Mansfield 3-2 thanks to an injury-time own goal. But since that struggle, Middlesbrough have been brilliant. In the fourth round they went to Old Trafford and knocked Manchester United out on penalties, having come back from a goal down in normal time. They then knocked out Tottenham Hotspur thanks to a 1-0 win at the Riverside, a victory they deserved for their performance. Can they make it three Premier League scalps in a row?
Chelsea will be hoping to fare better than their fellow Premier League sides on Saturday and they will have every reason to believe they can be the ones to end Middlesbrough’s run. While things off the pitch are a bit uncertain for Chelsea, on the pitch the players have been steaming ahead. The Blues have won their past five games across all competitions since the start of March, recovering from their EFL Cup final defeat to Liverpool.
Middlesbrough are the fourth lower-league side Chelsea have played in the FA Cup this season, starting their campaign with a 5-1 win over non-league Chesterfield at Stamford Bridge. They then beat League One’s Plymouth Argyle, needing to come from behind and extra-time, before needing two comebacks to beat Championship side Luton Town.
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Middlesbrough vs Chelsea: Match Stats
While Chelsea’s defence is usually good, in the FA Cup they have been more leaky than normal. The Blues have conceded in each of their three FA Cup games this season — which, remember, have all come against lower-league sides — and haven’t kept a clean sheet in the competition since last season’s semi-final.
Matt Crooks has only recently returned from a two-game suspension in the Championship, handed out for the midfielder reaching 10 cards for the campaign. The suspension was served at the end of February but it hasn’t acted as a deterrent, with Crooks already booked twice in his four games since returning, hitting 12 yellow cards for the season (plus one red).
8 May 2017 – Chelsea 3-0 Middlesbrough – Premier League
20 November 2016 – Middlesbrough 0-1 Chelsea – Premier League
27 February 2013 – Middlesbrough 0-2 Chelsea – FA Cup
28 January 2009 – Chelsea 2-0 Middlesbrough – Premier League
18 October 2008 – Middlesbrough 0-5 Chelsea – Premier League
Chelsea are currently on a right-game unbeaten run against against Middlesbrough across all competitions which includes a 2-0 win in the 2012/13 FA Cup fifth round. Middlesbrough last tasted victory in this fixture in 2006, winning back-to-back Premier League matches against a Chelsea side en route to the title and then as defending champions.