Boro Can Bounce Back v Chelsea
By Rob Nichols
Tuesday 15 Jan 2008 20:26:06
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The big one. Time for Boro to bounce back. The Jose-less Chelsea are in town can Boro banish all thoughts of 3 straight defeats with a third consecutive win over Chelsea at the Riverside? If we should succeed all those loose paper talk about crisis will be banished to the bottom of Middlesbrough Dock. What a difference a win would make.

Boro should be bolstered with the return of Mido spearheading the attack. Especially as he will be coming up against a Terry-less defence. Can the Egyptian bring that Mido touch to our attack?

Also fit-again Tuncay will start wide right with Rochemback and O’Neil pressing forward in support. Downing will have fellow England (under 21) international behind him so will not be expected to work the entire left flank. But expect to see him switching inside as O’Neil/Tuncay/ and Downing switch positions to throw off Chelsea markers.

Chelsea should also be without Ashley Cole, who had to sit out England’s defeat in Moscow. Wayne Bridge, his normal understudy for club and country is sidelined through suspension after seeing red in the reserves. Let’s hope Tuncay and O’Neil can work that flank to feed Mido in the centre.

The Sunderland game seems an eternity ago. A draw that should have been a win. A marvellous game but it came at some cost as our injury problems really started to bite. Then came the cup defeat at White Hart Lane followed by losses at Everton and most recently of course at Eastlands. Fortunately we will have a fit senior forward or two. Dong Gook Lee will have to contest with goalscoring Ben Hutchinson and reserves sharp shooter Tom Craddock.

Can Boro profit from Chelsea’s off field upheaval? The Pensioners have been collecting coaches of late. Ten at the last count. Or was that Henk ten Cate, formerly of Ajax and now assistant to Avram Grant. Or is that Steve Clarke? Get the picture? Getting more and more muddy isn’t it?

Anyway, let no one be in any doubt Chelsea still represent formidable opposition as the recent away win in Valencia proved most emphatically. They have world class players all over the park. Essien is outstanding in midfield but hopefully he is deployed in defence. Drogba virtually kept Chelsea in the Premiership race himself at times last season. He was certainly the difference between our sides at Stamford Bridge. And of course Frank Lampard, whatever you say about his patchy England form he never seems to be anything else other than inspirational for Chelsea. We wouldn’t mind buying one of his goals.

Talking of goals. Now is the time to get one. As the injured Jeremie Aliadiere said points have to be the priority now.

He told fmttm “It’s very important that now we win and get points because when you start getting near the bottom of the table it is very difficult to get back. Obviously the confidence is then low because you are near the bottom of the table and it gets harder and harder. So the next few games we have to get points even if we don’t play as good as we want to play. Points are the most important thing.”

There will be a big crowd in tomorrow. If you get down early you can watch the two recent Riverside victories over Jose’s Chelsea. Let’s give them the Blues again and let Roman see Red. Time to show the Location Location soft south some northern grit, determination and community pride.

Come on you reds.

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