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    Middlesbrough v Chelsea preview: Blues target a win to send them to the top of the league

    Antonio Conte has led Chelsea to five straight wins

    Middlesbrough face the daunting task of containing an in-form Chelsea side that could go top of league with a victory.

    Chelsea  have the opportunity to sit at the top of the table after fellow title contenders Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw by Southampton on Saturday.

    Since Chelsea’s 3-0 derby defeat to Arsenal the Blues have utilised a 3-4-3 formation that has resulted in them picking up five wins out of five games.

    Conte’s men have blown away opposition such as Manchester United, Leicester City, Southampton and Everton without conceding a single goal.

    Last season attackers Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Pedro performed well below-par, however they have returned to form under Conte and have formed a devastating trio that has 18 goals between them.

    Diego Costa is the league's top goalscorer with nine

    Boro boss Aitor Karanka has masterminded draws against Arsenal and Manchester City so far this season and will now be hoping his team can at least hold another title contender.

    Middlesbrough boast a stern defensive line that conceded the least goals in the Championship last season and has conceded the least goals out of any team outside the Premier League’s top five this season.

    However, it is in the goalscoring department where Boro have faltered, having converted only 10 goals with Spanish forward Alvaro Negredo struggling to display the predator-like finishing he displayed while at Manchester City.

    Negredo has netted only once in 11 games


    Gaston Ramirez is set to return for Boro after serving a one-match ban, but they will be without centre-back Daniel Ayala who will miss out due to an ankle problem.

    First choice left-back George Friend should be available for the home team after suffering a minor knee injury in training this week.

    Chelsea will travel north with a fully fit squad with Costa and Hazard overcoming the slight injuries they both sustained while on international duty.



    Chelsea have won six of their last meetings in all competitions against Middlesbrough without conceding a single goal.

    The two teams last met in the league during the 2008/09 season when Chelsea picked up a 2-0 home win courtesy of a Salomon Kalou brace.

    Boro have only beaten the Blues twice in 17 Premier League games, with both victories coming in 2006 at the Riverside.

    Mark Viduka got the winner in Boro's last victory over Chelsea in 2006


    Middlesbrough have not won back-to-back Premier League games since August 2008.

    Boro’s only home victory this season came in the last match of October in the form of a 2-0 win of Bournemouth.

    The home side has been involved in five draws this season, with only Tottenham drawing one more.


    Chelsea have conceded only nine goals in 11 league matches

    Thibaut Courtois has kept five consecutive clean sheets since his team’s 3-0 defeat to rivals Arsenal.

    That same match against the Gunners is the only game that Conte’s men have failed to find the net this season.

    After 11 games the Blues are 14 points better off than they were at this point last campaign.

    KO: 16:00 (UK) 20/11/2016 VENUE: Riverside Stadium
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    Item Reviewed: Middlesbrough v Chelsea preview: Blues target a win to send them to the top of the league Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Dan Hopkins
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