Following Spurs’ surprising slip up to West Ham, Chelsea could be crowned champions as early as Friday, provided they beat Middlesbrough and West Brom. The Blues are four points clear of Spurs with a game in hand, with three further games to play. So Antonio Conte and co could lift the Premier League trophy before their north London rivals even kick a ball next.
John Terry’s swansong season should add a fifth Premier League medal to a packed trophy cabinet and only his 2009-10 medal came down to the wire, courtesy of a closely fought one point title race with Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. Every other triumph so far has seen Chelsea win at a canter of seven or more points.
Coming into this game, Chelsea have won 10 of their previous 12, including a 3-0 win at Everton last week, where the Blues recorded a rare clean sheet- their first in the league since January.
Courtois’ goal will be tested by a desperate Middlesborough who will almost certainly return to the Championship with a loss at the Bridge, following Swansea’s 1-0 victory over Everton which extended the gap to seven points.
Only Manchester United (14) have played in more stalemates than Middlesborough (13) this season and Boro’s miserable 26 goals scored in 35 games leaves them with no-one to blame but themselves for the position they find themselves in.
Steve Agnew has breathed some life into the side which has seen them play more open football but it’s hard to see anything but a rampant Chelsea- buoyed on by Spurs’ failure at West Ham- tear apart a desperate Boro, who can’t afford to just sit back.
The Smoggies have not won on the road since the second game of the season. In those 17 games since they have drawn seven and lost 10 for a total of seven points from a possible 51.
N’Golo Kante (thigh), David Luiz (groin) and Thibaut Courtois (ankle) are expected to shake off their niggles and return to the starting eleven.
Victor Valdes (rib) and Gaston Ramirez (pelvis) remain sidelined while Grant Leadbitter (hamstring) and Daniel Ayala (ankle) are considered doubts.
What The Managers Say
- 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
- If Chelsea win on Monday, it will be their 300th win at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League. Only Manchester United (347) and Arsenal (305) have won more at home in the league
- 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