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Middlesbrough vs. Chelsea, Premier League: Half-time report

Disjointed but still leading 1-0.

Jan Kruger/Getty Images

The international break has managed to do what neither Southampton, Manchester United, Everton, or Leicester City could do, and that is, disrupt Chelsea's passing, movement, and especially decision-making.  It took almost 20 minutes for Chelsea to look semi-coherent, another 20 after that to find the breakthrough, Costa bundling home his league-leading 10th goal after a corner scramble.

That said, it's not like Chelsea have failed to create chances, despite the general sluggishness and poor decision-making.  Valdes saved an absolute sitter from Pedro.  Several other chances went begging when Pedro or Moses delayed their shots, or when Hazard couldn't quite find the quality needed with the final ball.  Hazard has been quite quiet in fact, though he did get an early reducer from Adam Clayton.

At the back, Traoré and Gastón were causing problems early, but we seem to have figure out how to keep them more quiet as the half wore on — mostly by keeping the ball ourselves.  Gastón especially is pushing forward, which is leaving acres of space for Victor Moses to exploit on the right.  We just need to pass him the ball early and often.

So, Chelsea up one, despite playing well below our capabilities. For a cold, away night after an international break, and wearing the black kits for some unfathomable reason, it could be worse.

Slightly better needed in the next 45 minutes to go top of the league.  COME ON, CHELSEA!

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