Chelsea will travel to the Riverside Stadium on Sunday evening in a bid to fortify their challenge for the Premier League title. Standing in their way is a rejuvenated Premier League newcomer in Middlesbrough.
Currently ranked 15th in the table, Middlesbrough have stopped the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal from claiming full points earlier this season.
While their ranking in the Premier League table might suggest otherwise, Middlesbrough have the ability to puncture the bubble of enthusiasm for the Blues.
Looking at the recent form of Chelsea, it has to be said that their fortunes have gone 360degree in a matter of three months.
It was only at the end of November that, having lost 2-0 at the hands of bitter rivals Arsenal, questions were raised regarding the suitability of Antonio Conte’s tactics to the Premier League.
Moreover, with Luis showing why Chelsea sold him a few seasons ago, it was thought that this season could be a long one for the Blues.
However, starting from their 2-0 win against Premier League newcomers Hull City – which was played down due to obvious reasons, the Blues have now gone five games in the Premier League without conceding a goal.
In their winning run, Chelsea has hit Manchester United for four and went one better against Everton a fortnight ago. Thus, if their recent form if anything to go by, the Blues have emerged as serious title contenders for the Premier League.
Deciphering the reasons for their recent rise, the credit has to go to Eden Hazard and Diego Costa. Both of them were criticized mercilessly last season after their strange dip in form led former manager Jose Mourinho to the gallows.
However, with the change at the helm, both of them have been able to get back to their best. Moreover, with Middlesbrough coming their way this Sunday, it is expected that the duo would prove to be too hot to handle for them.
Chelsea Probable Lineup: Courtois – Azpilicueta – Luiz – Cahill – Moses – Matic – Kante – Alonso – Pedro – Costa – Hazard