Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson says his side will take on Chelsea with a spring in their step at a sold-out Riverside tomorrow.
Boro have taken points from their recent visits to Arsenal and Manchester City, either side of a first home win of the season, against Bournemouth, and that, according to Gibson, has sent confidence soaring.
“The results have given us a lot of confidence,” Gibson said. “The Arsenal game in particular felt like a bit of a turning point.
“We followed that up with a big win against Bournemouth. Then against City we always felt like we were in the game, and Marten (de Roon) bulleted in that header.
“In the Premier League, you relish these opportunities.
“These are the kind of teams you’ve grown up watching on the telly, scoring goals on Match of the Day.
“Diego Costa, for example, is the kind of opponent you look forward to as a great challenge.
“That’s why we want to be in this league. We’re happy if people write us off against teams like this. It gives us that extra motivation to prove people wrong.
“It might have taken us a little bit of time to adapt to the Premier League, but now I think we’ve remembered our identity. We’ve been difficult to break down, we’re frustrating teams, and we’re gaining points.
“Hopefully we can maintain those standards.”
Boro’s head coach Aitor Karanka believes Chelsea’s lack of European football this season can boost their bid to reclaim the Premier League crown.
Antonio Conte’s men are on a five-match winning streak less than two months after the Italian’s position was said to be under threat.
Karanka believes Chelsea’s 5-0 win over Everton a fortnight ago emphasised their qualities and underlined the advantage of not having to contend also with European competition in this campaign.
Karanka said: “They (Chelsea) are definitely one of the favourites to win the league, especially when they are not playing Champions League football.
“He (Conte) has settled in really well. They’re really consistent, they’re scoring goals and it’s difficult to score against them. They are taking advantage of not playing midweek games in Europe.”
Like Conte, Karanka is enjoying an upsurge in fortunes after three games unbeaten for Boro.
“Now we have to think about Chelsea and think we can do something – we have to play 100 per cent or more,” said Karanka.