Before they can get their hands on the Premier League trophy, Chelsea host Championship-bound Sunderland AFC in their last League game of the season
David Moyes’s injury-stricken side travel to the home of the Premier League Champions to play their last Premier League game until perhaps the 2018/19 season and they will be looking to make the most of it. Chelsea however, have a few things on the agenda, giving them more incentive.
The first order of business would be setting a new Premier League win record by recording their 30th victory of the season. The second would be securing Thibaut Courtois’ Golden Glove award with a clean sheet and last but certainly not the least, giving John Terry the best send-off possible.
Given that he has a fully fit squad at his disposal, Antonio Conte will likely continue to rotate his first XI for the last game of the season in order to give the fringe players an opportunity to strut their stuff and give them a chance to stake their claim for a place in the FA Cup final against Arsenal.
Thibaut Courtois will likely be brought back into the starting XI ahead of Asmir Begovic in order to try and get him that 17th clean sheet of the season, which would secure him the Golden Glove award ahead of Hugo Lloris of Tottenham Hotspur.
John Terry is also likely to be handed what may be his final start in a Chelsea shirt. The Englishman is set to lift the title for the fifth time as Chelsea Captain and those at Stamford Bridge would like nothing more than to end his final match with a clean sheet.
Conte made 9 changes to the starting XI against Watford earlier this week and he would not have been impressed, as he saw his side only just scrape through thanks to a late Cesc Fabregas goal. This time around, we can expect him to put up a much stronger side to not take any chances.
Besides Terry, Ake and Chalobah are also likely to start in defence and midfield respectively, after putting in impressive shifts against Watford. Victor Moses will come be brought into right wing-back with Cesar Azpilicueta moving in behind as a part of the 3 man defence.
Pedro was left out of the starting XI against Watford may get a look in against Sunderland and Willian who was Chelsea’s Man Of The Match in that game, may also hold on to his starting place ahead of Eden Hazard. Michy Batshuayi, who scored his second Premier League goal in as many games against the Hornets, may also get to stat alongside Diego Costa.
Predicted Starting XI (3-4-3): Courtois; Ake, Terry, Azpilicueta; Alonso, Chalobah, Fabregas, Moses; Pedro, Batshuayi, Willian
David Moyes has 11 senior players missing. Most recently, Lamine Kone and Didier N’dong have joined Duncan Watmore, Paddy McNair, Kirchhoff, Honeyman, Pienaar, Khazri, Anichebe, Denayer, Victor Anichebe and former Chelsea man Papy Djilobodji on Sunderland’s injury list.
So as a result, the former Manchester United manager will likely switch his formation once again in order to put out the best possible team. Out of the team that lost to Arsenal, N’dong and Lamine Kone will not be available for selection.
This may force Moyes to revert to a four man defence with Billy Jones taking up a more central role alongside John O’Shea and Javier Manquillo playing as a right-back. Jock Rodwell could start in place of the injured N’dong and Ben Gibson is another option for Moyes in midfield.
Sebastian Larsson and Lee Cattermole will likely make the rest of Sunderland’s 3-man midfield. Adnan Januzaj will likely start on the right side of the Black Cats’ front three with Fabio Borini on the left and Jermain Defoe leading the line.
Predicted Starting XI (4-3-3): Pickford; Oviedo, O’Shea, Jones, Manquillo; Larsson, Rodwell, Cattermole; Borini, Defoe, Januzaj
- Should Chelsea defeat Sunderland, they will break the record of 29 wins in a Premier League season, set by Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in both the 2004/05 and the 2006/06 seasons.
- Should Chelsea defeat Sunderland, they would beaten 12 different teams both home and away in a single season, equalling records set by Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2004/05 and Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United 2006/07.
- Should Chelsea defeat Sunderland, they will equal Manchester United’s record of beating the Black Cats 23 times in the Premier League.
- Sunderland have lost 20 of their last 24 Premier League matches against Chelsea.
- Sunderland’s record in the final match of the Premier League stands at W1-D3-L3.
Chelsea 3-0 Sunderland
With Sunderland’s form not getting any better after confirming their relegation and Chelsea already having secured the Premier League title, it may see, as if both sides have nothing to play for besides pride and that we may see a lot of rotation by both managers in their final match of the season.
However, Conte would surely want that 30-match win record and the Chelsea players and fans would want to give Captain John Terry the best send off possible, in what could be his last Premier League game in Chelsea colours at Stamford Bridge.
While their first meeting this season resulted in a hard fought 0-1 victory for the Blues, Antonio Conte’s should have no trouble inflicting a big defeat on David Moyes’ Black Cats. The Italian would not have been pleased with his side taking their foot off the pedal against Watford and we can expect Chelsea to put in a more sincere effort this time around.