Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
May 11, 2014; 15:00 GMT
Chelsea FC travel to Wales to face Cardiff City in the final game of their season as they look to end their season on a high. The London club still has a slim chance of finishing second in the Premier League if Liverpool lose their match against Newcastle United, and they manage to win at the Cardiff City stadium.
Cardiff’s last home win against Chelsea came in February 1963 and they haven’t been able to beat them in their last five encounters in this stadium. The Bluebirds haven’t had a good record at home this season, which is one of the prime reason why they are facing relegation currently. They did manage a memorable 3-3 draw against Liverpool though in their last game and Ole Gunnar Solskjær will hope to provide the fans something to cheer about.
Chelsea meanwhile dropped points at home against Norwich in their last game and are on a poor run of form. The Blues have won only one of their last five matches in all competitions and will hope to finish the season on a positive note against Cardiff. Moreover, If Liverpool does slip up against Newcastle United, a win will provide them with the opportunity to grab the second place on final day.
Team news and tactical brief
Ole Gunnar Solskjær doesn’t have any new injury concern ahead of this fixture. Craig Noone, Mark Hudson and Andrew Taylor continue their spell at the side-lines. Gary Medel, who missed the last match against Newcastle United, is still doubtful to feature in this game. Kévin Théophile-Catherine though is likely to return to the side, while Mats Daehli remains at the side-line due to illness. Spanish defender Cala is also unavailable for selection as he serves his suspension due to misconduct during the match against Sunderland.
Solskjær is likely to make three changes to the side that lost 3-0 against Newcastle United in the last game. Kévin Théophile-Catherine is likely to return to the side in place of Declan John, which means Fabio will move to the left back. Craig Bellamy will replace Kim Bo-Kyung on the left side of the attack, while Aron Gunnarsson will make way for Magnus Wolff Eikrem.
Cardiff City have nothing but pride to play for in this game, and also a chance to move out of the bottom of the table. Solskjær and his men will hope to provide the fans something to cheer about in their final Premier League game, at least for one for season.
Expected starting line-up (4-4-1-1): Marshall (GK); Théophile-Catherine, Caulker, Turner, Fabio; Zaha, Eikrem, Whittingham, Bellamy; Mutch; Campbell
Jose Mourinho has some injury concerns ahead of this game as their injury list has grown considerably in the past few weeks. Petr Cech continues his spell at the side-lines, while Oscar, who has missed Chelsea’s last four matches, remains doubtful with his thigh injury. Frank Lampard, who was substituted at the end of the first half against Norwich City, is ill and Jose Mourinho has confirmed that the England international is not in a condition to travel to Wales.
Samuel Eto’o, whose last appearance was in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final clash against Atletico Madrid, has picked up an injury in training, along with John Terry and the duo is unlikely to start against Cardiff, Mourinho has revealed.
Ramires is the other absentee as he serves his suspension, which is extended into next season. Jose Mourinho is expected to make four changes to the side that he fielded against Norwich City. Tomas Kalas could make another start in place of injured John Terry, while Cesar Azpilicueta will replace Ashley Cole at left back.
In the midfield, Frank Lampard, who is unlikely to travel, will make way for David Luiz, who will partner Nemanja Matic in the pivot. Mohamed Salah produced a fairly disappointing performance against Norwich before he was replaced, he will make way for Eden Hazard, who started on the bench after a reported spat with Mourinho. Willian will start through the middle with Andre Schurrle shifting to the right wing.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Schwarzer (GK); Ivanovic, Cahill, Kalas, Azpilicueta; Matic, Luiz; Schurrle, Willian, Hazard; Ba
- Chelsea have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 7 matches in the Premier League.
- There have been under 2.5 goals scored in 7 of Chelsea’s last 8 away games in the Premier League.
- Cardiff have lost their last two matches, conceding seven goals without reply.
- This season is guaranteed to be Jose Mourinho’s worst Premier League points total.
- Only Norwich (28) have scored fewer goals than Cardiff (31) this season.
Player To Watch Out For
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
His return from injury couldn’t stop Chelsea from exiting the Champions League; on the contrary, his mistakes played a part in the defeat at the hands of Atletico. In the aftermath of the result, Hazard and Mourinho expressed their displeasure publically and the later fielded a Hazard-less eleven against Norwich in the last game. Although the Belgian did eventually come on, Chelsea couldn’t register a win, thereby ending their title push prematurely. In the last game, Eden will be eager to end the season in the same vein of form that saw him become the best young player in England this season and this certainly doesn’t auger well for Cardiff.
Cardiff City 1-3 Chelsea
With Cardiff already relegated and Chelsea out of the title race, this match doesn’t have any consequence whatsoever, but both teams will be looking to end on a high. Chelsea, however, have considerably more firepower in their ranks and should be able to return to London with all three points.