Middlesbrough v Chelsea: Back motivated hosts to push Blues all the way

Middlesbrough have already knocked Manchester United and Tottenham out of the FA Cup and Jack Critchley believes the hosts can take Chelsea to extra-time...

Boro to thrive in front of packed Riverside

Although Middlesbrough are still firmly in the play-off picture, the majority of fans will see this weekend's FA Cup quarter-final clash with Chelsea as a welcome distraction from the Teessiders' ongoing battle for a top six spot.

Chris Wilder's side have enjoyed an unbelievable Cup run and have already dumped both Manchester United and Spurs out of the competition. In terms of quality and consistency, this is arguably a step up, however, the fearless hosts have very little to lose and they will be backed by a vociferous home crowd.

The Boro faithful haven't had an awful lot to cheer over the last five years. Wilder's arrival has sparked an upturn in results at the Riverside Stadium and the atmosphere around the ground should help to give the players a lift on Saturday evening.

Chelsea's squad may be packed with quality but Boro's defence has conceded just 0.89 goals per game at this ground so far this season, and they haven't dropped a single point here since November 23rd.

The hosts are understandably priced up as the outsiders for this tie at 6.8, but they will fancy their chances of defying the odds once again. Middlesbrough Draw No Bet can be backed at 5.3 on the Exchange, and given their ability to frustrate higher-ranker opposition, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them cause yet another FA Cup upset.

Unwelcome distractions for the Blues

Although Chelsea have been given permission to fly to this game, the Blues face a fairly quick turnaround following their Champions League victory against Lille on Wednesday night.

Thomas Tuchel has done a superb job to keep his squad's minds focussed on their performances, but they cannot afford to take their eye off the ball on Saturday evening.

The Blues were sloppy against Luton in the previous round and cannot afford to make a similarly slow start here. They are yet to keep a clean sheet in the FA Cup and at 1.84 BTTS could be worth considering once again.

Nevertheless, they have won five games in a row domestically, and should have a big enough squad to negotiate this hectic schedule. They are 1.54 to secure their place in the final four, but they will have to ensure that their performance levels don't dip at any point during the 90 minutes.

Watmore's energy to test the Chelsea defence

Duncan Watmore's minutes have been carefully managed this season and with the former Sunderland man having played just nine minutes in midweek, Wilder could be set to unleash the energetic striker this weekend.

The 28-year old may only have scored six times this season, but he's popped up with some incredibly important goals and his endeavour and determination may prove vitally important here. At 4/1 to score anytime on the Sportsbook, he may be the man to make the difference at the Riverside Stadium.

Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku has started in each of Chelsea's last two FA Cup fixtures and is always a threat against lower-ranked opposition. However, Hakim Ziyech may be worth looking at in the anytime goalscorer market. He put in a superb performance against Plymouth in the fourth round, and having made a seven minute cameo from the bench in midweek, he could be primed for a start here.

The 28-year old is 15/8 in the anytime goalscorer market.

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