SO, THAT’S the third clash with red hot title contenders in four games and while Boro never managed to bank a point from this one there were still positives. Boro rode their luck at times but battled bravely to contain Chelsea and stay in the game only to be punished from a set-play just before the break as otherwise quiet ‘argument in an empty room’ merchant Diego Costa showed deadly predatory skills after Boro switched off.
In the second half Boro pressed up more, applied a lot of admittedly scrappy pressure and created a couple of half chances to no avail – but it is telling that both players and supporters came away disappointed not to have got something.
But the team continues to develop, grow into the pace and intensity of the league and they are learning fast. To lose 1-0 to Chelsea is disappointing but not a disgrace and if they can maintain the steady rise performance levels in the bread-and-butter games then Boro will stay ahead of the hot spots.
Here’s my player ratings from the match. Having watched the game back again, maybe they are a bit harsh on Fabio who was generally comfortable on the ball in his first league start this season and wasn’t always helped out by Ramirez in front of him – although Moses did still have a postcode of space to operate freely in the left-back slot.
Chelsea have been awesome since switching to a 343 – five wins on the spin with an aggregate score of 16-0 – and it is a very effective system… but there are chinks in the armour that can be exploited. I did a bit earlier in the week you should read looking at Chelsea’s tactical tweak and how Boro can counter it. And I think Aitor did well to contain the most potent elements of Chelsea’s attack and still offer something going forward.