Pochettino on Chelsea needing to turn round EFL Cup semi-final ahead of second leg against Middlesbrough
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The Carabao Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Middlesbrough remains finely poised ahead of the second leg tonight at Stamford Bridge.
The Championship side secured a slender 1-0 advantage in their home half of the tie and will be eyeing a trip to Wembley for the first time since they won the competition in 2004.
But Chelsea will be confident of progressing to the final after a good recent run of home form, with Mauricio Pochettino’s bloated squad beginning to show signs of gelling.
A late February date against either Fulham or Liverpool awaits the winner.
Follow below for all the build-up, team news and match reaction. Click here for all the odds and tips.
Chelsea vs Middlesbrough – LIVE
The Blues are languishing ninth in the Premier League and trail fourth-placed Aston Villa by 12 points, but turn their focus to the domestic cups this week.
Championship Middlesbrough visit Stamford Bridge on Tuesday holding a one-goal advantage in the Carabao Cup semi-final while Villa await on Friday in an FA Cup fourth-round tie, but Cole does not believe this week is make-or-break for Pochettino.
Karl Matchett23 January 2024 19:20
Chelsea vs Middlesbrough – LIVE
Recent form is an odd one, for Chelsea at least. The Premier League club have been improved of late with just one blip in the last five: away to Boro, of course.
But wins over Crystal Palace, Luton, Preston and Fulham – the latter since that loss at the Riverside – does show they are finding some consistency of victories.
For Boro, since the first-leg win they’ve won at Millwall and drawn at home to Rotherham, leaving them mid-table in the Championship – though only three points off the play-off spots.
They came into the first leg having lost successive fixtures to Coventry and Aston Villa, the latter in the FA Cup.
Karl Matchett23 January 2024 19:14
Chelsea vs Middlesbrough – LIVE
Worth a reminder of what we’re facing then: Boro won the first leg 1-0, so Chelsea need a win tonight at the very least to avoid elimination. If Boro don’t lose, they are into the final.
If it’s a one-goal win for the Blues, we’ll go to extra time, and penalties if needed beyond that 30 minutes.
There are no away goals in the EFL Cup semis.
Additionally, remember we have no VAR in these games, as it’s not installed at Boro’s home ground.
Middlesbrough: Glover, Van den Berg, Barlaser, Clarke, Fry, Hackney, Rogers, Howson, Forss, Crooks, Engel
Karl Matchett23 January 2024 19:07
Kalvin Phillips to end Man City nightmare with Premier League loan move
The move is not yet complete but the midfielder is set to join the Hammers to try and boost his chances of retaining his place in the England squad for Euro 2024.
There could be an option for West Ham to buy Phillips in the summer in the final deal but for now the two clubs are ready to conclude a straight loan move.
Karl Matchett23 January 2024 18:56
Mauricio Pochettino puts Stamford Bridge apathy down to last season’s struggles
The team won just three Premier League games at home in the first 11 months of 2023 under managers Graham Potter, Bruno Saltor, Frank Lampard and Pochettino.
Between January and the beginning of December they scored 18 goals in 19 games, though four came in a single, frenetic draw with Manchester City in the final match of that run.
Since then their form in west London has improved markedly. They are unbeaten since losing to Brentford on October 28 and have won four consecutive games, their best run at home in the league since winning six in a row during Lampard’s first spell, either side of the 2020 Covid shutdown.
Karl Matchett23 January 2024 18:49
Raheem Sterling reveals his vegan curry recipe as footballers cut out the meat
Raheem Sterling has revealed his recipe for a vegan curry as part of the Green Football Weekend campaign.
Professional footballers – from Lionel Messi to Hector Bellerin – are increasingly cutting down the amount of meat and animal products in their diet. It’s all in a bid to stay healthy and on the pitch for as long as possible, and it could be having a trickle-down effect to the fans.
This doesn’t mean the whole Premier League has gone vegan, but it’s raising awareness around stepping-stones that can help both your health and the environment.
Karl Matchett23 January 2024 18:42
Premier League ‘yet to offer’ financial deal to EFL but have spent extra £500m on wages
The figure was outlined as the football governance bill enters its “absolute final stages”, according to the government, with the expectation of being passed into law before Easter. That will bring the establishment of an independent regulator, that will have backstop powers to force the Premier League into a deal, that the EFL wants at a 75-25 split. The top division has as yet made no offer, as it has also developed a cumulative wage bill that is £2bn more than any of the four other major leagues in Europe.
The argument made at an EFL dinner event was that Premier League clubs are working against their own interests in not agreeing a deal since 14 of the competition’s clubs have not been fixed members at an average of 13 years in the division, and so many of its players come through the pyramid. Fortifying that is the view that the advantage over the rest of Europe is now so great that there isn’t even the same competitive necessity, which is why more can be done to help the wider pyramid.
Miguel Delaney’s feature:
Karl Matchett23 January 2024 18:35
Hello and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg between Chelsea and Middlesbrough. It’s the Championship side who have the slender advantage after the first leg, with Michael Carrick’s side picking up a 1-0 win at the Riverside.
However, the Mauricio Pochettino’s, whose defeat to Boro was their only loss in their last five games, will be confident of overturning the one-goal deficit and making their way to their ninth League Cup final at Wembley next month.
It’s bound to be an intriguing affair at Stamford Bridge, so stay with us for all the build-up, team news, match updates and reaction!