Bet Builder Tips: A 30/1 flutter for Middlesbrough v Chelsea in the FA Cup

Our tipster Andrew Beasley's rolling back the years.

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This year marks 25 since Middlesbrough and their fans experienced one of the most roller-coaster, heart-breaking campaigns football has ever seen. They reached two domestic cup finals but lost them both and, despite Fabrizio Ravanelli scoring 31 goals in all competitions, they were relegated from the Premier League.

To rub salt in the wound, Boro only went down because they were docked three points for failing to fulfil a fixture. No covid postponements in those days, folks.

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It’s natural for this match to stir memories of 1997 as, in the only FA Cup final in their history, Middlesbrough lost to Chelsea. And they were effectively beaten in the space of 42 seconds, as that’s how long it took future Champions League winning manager Roberto Di Matteo to give the Blues the lead.

Chelsea then beat Boro in the League Cup final the following season and have won the two FA Cup meetings since. They are unsurprisingly red-hot favourites to reach the semi-final here too.

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Saturday 5.15pm: Middlesbrough v Chelsea
TV: BBC One, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport Website

Chelsea (-1)

While Middlesbrough are obviously underdogs, their route through the competition to this point will provide all the encouragement they need. Chris Wilder’s side knocked out Manchester United on penalties at Old Trafford then beat Tottenham Hotspur after extra time at the Riverside.

At the very least they can harbour hopes of taking the match beyond the 90 minutes, particularly as (including the Spurs match) they have won their last nine home games. And though Chelsea’s form is excellent too, having won 11 of their last 12 matches, the club is in turmoil off the pitch.

Thomas Tuchel doesn’t have to drive the squad up to Teeside in a minivan but the fact that was a genuine possibility says everything about the madness swirling around the Blues. One of the advantages of being funded by an oligarch for almost two decades is that you have one hell of a squad though.

Chelsea are likely to make changes to their XI, but the kind that involve bringing in a £97m striker who has a point to prove. As such they should be able to win comfortably enough, and by at least two goals to overcome the Chelsea (-1) handicap.

Both teams to score: Yes

However, one cost of fielding slightly unusual line-ups has been a failure to keep clean sheets. Tuchel’s boys conceded to the might of Chesterfield, Plymouth and Luton (twice) in the three previous rounds.

Middlesbrough scored just once in the main matches against United and Spurs, having only taken 14 shots, and five teams have more home goals than them in the 2021/22 Championship.

But no team in the second tier has failed to score in fewer matches on their own patch, with Birmingham City (who Boro beat 2-0 at St. Andrew’s in midweek) the only team to have headed home from the Riverside with a clean sheet. With that record behind them, the home side can ensure that both teams score in this match.

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Over 11.5 Corners

If you don’t watch the Championship much you tend to think of it as full of long ball football where teams do little more than rely upon set pieces for goals. Yet it says plenty that despite Middlesbrough’s matches averaging the most corners in the division, it’s still fewer than there have been for 11 teams in the Premier League this season, one of whom is Chelsea.

And though Boro’s matches have averaged 10.3 corners, 10 of their 18 games at home have paid out on over 10.5 – the most in the Championship – and five have featured at least 14 corners. The Blues might have not had quite that many recently but there has been 11-or-more in three of their last five domestic matches away from home, including at Luton in the previous round. As such, we should be good for Over 11.5 Corners here.

Under 3.5 cards

Middlesbrough also feature near the top of the total yellow cards chart for the Championship, though they’re only midtable for receiving them in home matches. They were also well behaved in their recent FA Cup ties against Premier League big boys, picking up just one booking apiece in those two matches even though both stretched to 120 minutes.

Let’s be honest though, English refs love nothing more than doing their best to level up cup matches like these. They probably got away with all sorts.

Chelsea haven’t received too many yellows lately and with Paul Tierney running the show there’s no reason to think they will here either, so pop Under 3.5 Cards down on your Bet Builder and enjoy the match, friends.

Middlesbrough v Chelsea tips

Chelsea (-1)
Both Teams To Score
Over 11.5 corners
Under 3.5 Cards

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