MIDDLESBROUGH and Chelsea renew what was once a fierce rivalry as the Carabao Cup semi-finals kick-off tonight.
The two sides collide in the first leg at the Riverside Stadium later looking to take a big step towards making next month’s Wembley showpiece.
And despite now being in separate divisions, light years apart financially and being 272 miles apart geographically, older supporters from both clubs will be desperate to get one over the other.
A mass of thugs broke through fencing at the infamous Shed End at full time, charging past police to launch missiles at away fans in disgusting scenes.
Fast forward into the 90s and payback was on the cards for the Blues on the pitch – and they have dominated since.
The agony began for Boro with a hat-trick of Wembley cup final defeats to Chelsea during the 90s.
Then it just had to be the boys in blue who delivered the final nail in the coffin during Boro’s limp 2017 Premier League relegation campaign.
The North East team have yet to bounce back to the top-flight since, although they did come close by reaching last season’s Championship play-offs.
But they did get an opportunity to get some payback on Chelsea two seasons ago in the FA Cup – but it was the Blues that triumphed 2-0 in that quarter-final at the Riverside.
Now it is the Carabao Cup that will provide the next chapter of their storied past, but history is not on Boro’s side.
Michael Carrick’s outfit have lost NINE consecutive matches against the Blues.
But just like Middlesbrough supporters, he is hoping to mark the 20th anniversary of Boro’s only ever cup success by reaching the final of the same trophy they lifted in 2004.
What is Middlesbrough and Chelsea’s current form?
Goals from Armando Borja, Thiago Silva, Raheem Sterling and Enzo Fernandez saw Chelsea comfortably cruise past Preston in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
That followed Premier League victories over Luton Town and Crystal palace over the festive period.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men will be expected to pull off a similar result and make is four wins on the bounce against a Middlesbrough side who were beaten at home by high-flying Aston Villa last time out in the FA Cup.
Carrick’s side have won two out of their five matches in all competitions since beating Port Vale last month to book their spot in the semis.
What is the team news?
Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick will have taken great pride and confidence despite the late defeat to Villa.
But the Boro boss got to finally see the return of Hayden Hackney and Emmanuel Latte Lath in the FA Cup third round tie, while Matt Crooks was an unused substitute.
However, he will be without the suspended Morgan Rogers tonight – this season’s top scorer in the Carabao Cup.
Meanwhile, Pochettino delivered some damning news by revealing that Christopher Nkunku has suffered a hip injury shortly after returning from his long-term knee issue.
And the Frenchman is expected to be sidelined along with Wesley Fofana (knee), Trevor Chalobah (thigh), Reece James (hamstring), Robert Sanchez (knee), Marc Cucurella (ankle) and Romeo Lavia (thigh).
However, the Chelsea boss was optimistic about Benoit Badiashile returning from his muscular injury for the first leg, while Ben Chilwell who has been out with a hamstring problem and Carney Chukwuemeka who has a knee issue have been training.
But Nicolas Jackson will certainly not play as he is away on international duty with Senegal at AFCON.
Who will be the star men?
Boro midfielder Hayden Hackney donned the captain’s armband for the clash with Villa and the local lad will have the hopes of Teesside on his shoulders in this one.
The 21-year-old emerged from their academy into the first-team last season and he has not looked back, going on to become a regular for England U21s.
He has a host of Premier League clubs watching him closely as they plot a swoop, but for now he will be concentrating on trying to make history for his hometown team.
Meanwhile, Cole Palmer has undoubtedly been the pick of the bunch out of Chelsea’s summer signings.
He has ten goals already this term for the Blues in all comps, and he will be hopeful of adding to that tally tonight.
Chelsea have been all over the place at times this term but we expect them to edge this one:
Boro 0-1 Chelsea
What are the latest odds?
- Middlesbrough to win 9/2
- Draw 16/5
- Chelsea to win 4/7
*Odds courtesy of Ladbrokes are correct at time of publication
What TV channel is it on and can it be live streamed?
- Middlesbrough vs Sky Sports Main Event and Football in the UK will be broadcast LIVE on
- Coverage is expected to commence from 7pm GMT on both channels – a whole hour before kick-off.
- Fans have the option to stream the entire action through .
- Alternatively, follow SunSport’s live blog for minute-by-minute coverage of the match.
When is Middlesbrough vs Chelsea
- Chelsea’s semi-final first leg against Middlesbrough will take place on Tuesday, January 9.
- It is scheduled to get underway at 8pm GMT.
- Riverside Stadium is the allocated arena for this exciting fixture and it can host approximately 34,742 fans.
- sent Middlesbrough crashing out of Cup when the sides last met in a quarter-final tie. and