Chelsea vs Middlesbrough: Carabao Cup semi-final preview

By on January 23, 2024

Mykhailo Mudryk chelsea

Chelsea will be looking to turn things around against Middlesbrough at Stamford Bridge tonight and book their place in the Carabao Cup final.

Boro shocked the Premier League giants with a 1-0 victory in the semi-final first leg at the Riverside Stadium two weeks ago so the pressure is on Chelsea this evening.

The Blues have endured another disappointing campaign and questions will certainly be asked of Mauricio Pochettino’s position as manager if they fail to see-off Middlesbrough to reach the Carabao Cup final.

Chelsea head into the game off the back of a narrow 1-0 win over local rivals Fulham at the weekend. A Cole Palmer penalty in first half stoppage time was enough to separate the two teams at Stamford Bridge.

It was Chelsea’s third Premier League victory in a row having previously beaten Luton Town and Crystal Palace in late December, so there have been signs of improvement in recent weeks. However, the London giants are still languishing way down in ninth place in the table and 12 points adrift of the top four having won just 9 of their 21 Premier League games this season.

Therefore, Pochettino could do with booking their place in a domestic cup final to ease the pressure on his shoulders and Chelsea will be quietly confident they can turn things around against Boro on home soil.

Michael Carrick’s men were excellent in the first leg earlier this month, but they too have endured a mixed campaign. After qualifying for the Championship play offs last year, much was expected of Middlesbrough this season.

They got off to a poor start to the 2023/24 campaign but have strung together some results in recent months and are now just three points off the play off places in 11th place in the Championship table.

Carrick will now be looking to finish the job with a positive result against Chelsea tonight to book their place in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley.

How to watch

Chelsea vs Middlesbrough will kick off at 8pm at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday 23rd January. The game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK.

Match going supporters can buy Chelsea vs Middlesbrough tickets through official club channels or via trusted reseller sites such as Seatsnet.com.

Team news

Chelsea continue to nurse a long injury list that has hampered them throughout the campaign. Wesley Fofana underwent knee surgery way back in July ’23 and is continuing his rehabilitation while Lesley Ugochukwu is also out with a thigh problem.

Reece James has struggled with a hamstring injury this season and the full-back is still several weeks away from being fit so he’ll miss out tonight along with Marc Cucurella – who’s out with an ankle injury.

Summer signing Romeo Lavia has endured a nightmare spell since joining Chelsea from Southampton as he’s yet to make a first tea appearance due to various injury issues. The midfielder is currently recovering from a thigh problem.

Christopher Nkunku is close to being available after a hip injury but this game may come too soon. Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez is out with a knee injury and Malo Gusto has also been ruled out after picking up a knock against Fulham at the weekend.

Trevoh Chalobah is back in training after recovering from his injury issue but it remains to be seen whether he’ll feature against Boro. Nicolas Jackson is unavailable as he’s away with Senegal at the AFCON.

Middlesbrough on the other hand also have injury problems to contend with heading into the game. Darragh Lenihan, Tom Smith, Emmanuel Latte Lath and Alex Bangura are all out with various injury issues while Seny Dieng, Sam Silvera and Riley McGree are away on international duty at the Asian Cup and AFCON.

Likely line-ups

Pochettino will stick with his 4-2-3-1 formation with Dorde Petrovic keeping his place between the sticks in the absence of Chelsea No.1 Sanchez. Axel Disasi should start alongside Thiago Silva in the middle of defence with Levi Colwill continuing at left-back. Malo Gusto should start at right-back again if he’s passed fit.

Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez are expected to keep their places in the two deep lying midfield positions. Conor Gallagher has established himself as a regular under Pochettino and he should start in the more advanced midfield role.

Mykhaylo Mudryk is pushing for a recall on the left flank but Pochettino may opt to stick with Raheem Sterling while Cole Palmer is certain to retain his place amid a terrific run of form.

Armando Broja has been linked with a loan move away this month but he’s likely to start up front in this game given Chelsea have very few alternative options up front with Jackson away on international duty.

As for Middlesbrough, they are also likely to deploy a 4-2-3-1 formation with Luke Ayling, Rav van den Berg, Matt Clark and Dael Fry making up the defence. Jonny Howson should start in midfield along with Daniel Barlaser. Marcus Forss will be the goal threat up front for the Championship outfit.

Likely Chelsea XI: Petrovic; Gusto, Disasi, Silva, Colwill; Caicedo, Fernández; Sterling, Gallagher, Palmer; Broja

Likely Middlesbrough XI: Glover; Ayling, Fry, Clark, Van den Berg; Howson, Barlaser; Hackney, Rogers, Engel; Forss


Chelsea were poor in the first leg so they’ll need a much improved performance if they want to book their place in the League Cup final. Middlesbrough will be fighting for their lives to avoid defeat and seal their place at Wembley so it’s poised to be a thrilling game in West London.

Pochettino will want a quick start and an early goal to settle the nerves as Boro are likely to sit back and defend deep to protect their slender lead. The longer the game stays at 0-0 the more Middlesbrough will dig in and Chelsea fans could become restless. It’s important the Blues stay patient though and don’t give away any silly opportunities for the visitors to grab what would be a vital away goal.

Chelsea may not have a 20+ goal a season striker in their ranks but they still have plenty of quality. Palmer is enjoying a fine season and will be a real threat while Raheem Sterling is still a top class attacker despite his inconsistent form this season. The Blues will be determined to turn things around and while Boro will put up a good fight, we expect Chelsea to get the job done on home soil to book their place in the League Cup final.

Chelsea 3-1 Middlesbrough [Chelsea progress 3-2 on aggregate]