Top Spot Beckons for Chelsea at Middleborough


Antonio Conte will wait to make a final decision on whether to start Diego Costa in Chelsea’s Super Sunday clash at Middlesbrough today. The Spain striker withdrew from international duty with a groin injury and returned to training with Chelsea on Wednesday. But Conte will take his time before deciding whether to include the in-form striker, who has nine

The Blues will be full of confidence heading to the Riverside after a run of five straight league wins which has helped them rise to second in the table. A win will see them leapfrogLiverpool and Manchester City to go top.

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough have just one win from their last nine league matches but draws away at Arsenal and Manchester City and a home victory against Bournemouth have seen Aitor Karanka’s climb up to 15th in the table. However, they have lost their last six games against Chelsea, failing to score in each match.

Chelsea have no injury concerns with midfielder Cesc Fabregas and Kurt Zouma fit again, although the latter will not be rushed back to the first team following his lengthy lay-off with a knee injury.

Chelsea have been beaten just twice in their last 17 Premier League games against Boro, with both losses in 2006 (W12 D3).

Eden Hazard is set to make 150th Premier League appearance in this game – he has 48 goals and 31 assists in his 149 league games for Chelsea. He would be the sixth Chelsea player to score 50 Premier League goals if he scores twice more. However, six of Hazard’s seven goals this season have been scored at Stamford Bridge.

If Chelsea win this game without conceding, it will be the 10th time a Premier League club has won 6+ consecutive games without shipping a goal – Chelsea will have been responsible for half of those.

Chelsea are 14 points better off this season after 11 games (25) than they were last season at this point (11). Diego Costa has been involved in more Premier League goals than any other player this season (12, nine goals and three assists). Costa has scored in nine of his last 12 Premier League appearances for Chelsea.