Three more Chelsea players returned injured from international duty this week.
Wayne Bridge suffered a thigh strain during training with England, John Obi Mikel played 90 minutes for Nigeria in midweek despite an existing thigh strain, and Michael Ballack suffered damage to a hamstring during Germany’s game against Switzerland.
Better news for Jose Mourinho is John Terry’s much anticipated return to the starting line-up. Mourinho may also be able to recall Khalid Boulahrouz and Arjen Robben as both returned to training this week.
Middlesbrough beat Chelsea 2-1 on Teesside back in August. Mark Viduka scored the winner that day but is expected to miss this game with a calf injury.
Gareth Southgate is also without Lee Cattermole, but Mark Schwarzer is likely to return.
Chelsea last suffered defeat in the Premiership at Stamford Bridge on February 21st, 2004, when Arsenal defeated Claudio Ranieri’s team 2-1.
After this game the Blues don’t play again in the League until March 3rd. Avoiding defeat will establish the phenomenal record of three years unbeaten at home.
Chelsea have not lost to Boro at the Bridge since 1975.