Chelsea will be hoping to finish the 2018-19 Premier League campaign with a win against Leicester City, that will guarantee them a third-place finish.
The final matchday of the 2018-19 Premier League is upon us. With all twenty teams set to play at the same time on Sunday afternoon, the eyes will mostly be on Manchester City and Liverpool as the title race reaches it conclusion. But, Chelsea will have their third place in the table at stake, when they visit the King Power Stadium to take on Leicester City.
After having spent the past few months outside of the top four, a combination of poor performances from the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United and a decent run of results (one defeat in last seven league games) has put Chelsea in the driver’s seat to end the season as the third-best team in England.
With qualification for the Champions League in the bag and a shot at winning the Europa League on the horizon, Chelsea’s first season under Maurizio Sarri is set to end on quite a positive note.
The Blues are a point ahead of fourth-placed Tottenham, following their 3-0 win against Watford last weekend. A win on Sunday would ensure they finish third, irrespective of Spurs’ result against Everton.
Leicester City, on the other hand, are certain to finish in the top half of the Premier League table. Currently ninth in the standings, the Foxes could finish a slot higher, should they win against Chelsea and Everton end up dropping points against Tottenham.
Since Brendan Rodgers’ appointment as the manager towards the end of February, Leicester have won six of their ten matches (D1 L3), beating Arsenal along the way. But, they did lose to leaders Manchester City 1-0 on Monday night and will be keen on ending the campaign on a winning note in front of their home crowd.
Team News & Tactics
Daniel Amartey and Matty James are the only injury-enforced absentees for Leicester City heading into the game against Chelsea. With Danny Simpson and Shinji Okazaki set to leave the club once their deals run out, the duo could be given some minutes on Sunday, but are unlikely to feature from the get-go.
Kasper Schmeichel is a guaranteed starter between the sticks for the Foxes and will be guarded by a backline comprising of freshly-crowned club Player of the Year Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell as the full-backs, while captain Wes Morgan and Harry Maguire should slot in at the heart of the defence, with Jonny Evans dropping out.
Wilfred Ndidi has been an ever-present at the base of Leicester’s midfield and should once again feature against Chelsea, with Hamza Choudhury set to partner him after a run of impressive displays. On-loan AS Monaco midfielder Youri Tielemans, who could very well be playing his last game for Leicester, will take up the third slot in the middle of the park.
James Maddison is a permanent fixture on the left flank and that is unlikely to change, while Marc Albrighton should feature on the right side again, ahead of Demarai Gray. Leading the line for Leicester against the Blues will be star striker Jamie Vardy.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Pereira, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell; Ndidi, Choudhury; Albrighton, Tielemans, Maddison; Vardy
Chelsea will be without the services of N’Golo Kante, Antonio Rudiger, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ethan Ampadu, while Andreas Christensen is also a doubt after picking up a knock against Eintracht Frankfurt earlier this week. With the Blues having played 120 minutes during the week, Sarri might look to rest some of his regulars on Sunday.
Kepa Arrizabalaga, who was the hero of their penalty shootout win against Eintracht, is certain to start between the sticks. Cesar Azpilicueta could be given a breather though, with Davide Zappacosta likely to feature at right-back, while Marcos Alonso could come in the opposite side.
David Luiz, fresh after signing a new contract with Chelsea, is sure to feature at the heart of the defence. With Christensen a doubt for the game, Luiz could be partnered by Gary Cahill, who is set to leave at the end of the season.
Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic are likely to hold on to their places in the middle of the park, but Ross Barkley could be in for a start in place of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, with the academy graduate likely to be afforded rest ahead of the Europa League final.
Pedro and Willian are likely to feature out on the flanks for the West London outfit, with Eden Hazard likely to be used as a substitute, after the Belgian’s exertion in the midweek fixture. Gonzalo Higuain should lead the line for Chelsea, ahead of Olivier Giroud.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Zappacosta, Cahill, Luiz, Alonso; Barkley, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Higuain, Willian
1. Leicester Draw No Bet @ 1.72
2. Jamie Vardy to score anytime @ 2.05
1. Jamie Vardy to score 2 or more @ 6.00
- Leicester City are looking to complete the league double over Chelsea for the first time since the 2000-01 campaign, having won the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge 1-0.
- Chelsea have won five of their last six away league games against Leicester, with the exception being a 1-2 loss in the Foxes’ title winning campaign of 2015-16.
- Leicester have won four of their last five Premier League home games (L1), more than they had in their previous 12 at the King Power Stadium (W3 D2 L7).
- Chelsea are guaranteed a top four finish in the Premier League this season – since four English clubs were able to qualify for the Champions League in 2001-02, only Arsenal (15) have finished in these places more often than the Blues (14).
- Chelsea have kept just one clean sheet in their last 13 away league games, conceding in each of their last eight. They last conceded in nine consecutive Premier League games on the road in February 2001.
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The 33-year-old Chelsea captain will be on his way out at the end of the season, when his contract runs out. And it would be fair to say that Cahill’s final season with the Blues has been quite forgettable. Cahill has featured just eight times across all competitions this season, with manager Maurizio Sarri constantly overlooking him, which has led to friction between the pair’s relationship.
The Englishman spoke out in public of his disappointment over his treatment this season, following which he was once again not used despite Andreas Christensen’s injury during the game against Eintracht, with Sarri throwing on Davide Zappacosta instead.
Cahill has established himself as a legend at Chelsea, having won everything there is to be won at club level since joining the Londoners from Bolton back in 2012. It is only fair that he deserves a proper send-off and Sarri should give him the chance to lead his side out one last time in the Premier League on Sunday against Leicester.
Leicester City 1-1 Chelsea
Leicester City have shown impressive signs under new manager Brendan Rodgers. With the likes of James Maddison, Youri Tielemans and Jamie Vardy lining up attack, there is a sense of excitement to their forward play, while defensively they have shown they can be resolute as well, as was seen in their last two matches against Arsenal and Manchester City.
Chelsea will be buoyed by their penalty shootout win against Eintracht in the midweek that sent them through to the Europa League final, but will be drained out heavily after exerting themselves for over 120 minutes.
With Champions League qualification sealed, Sarri might opt to rest a few of his players such as Eden Hazard, Cesar Azpilicueta and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, handing the Foxes a slight advantage.
Chelsea’s recent record away at King Power has been impressive, but Leicester are also in a good run of form, having won four of their last six games on home soil. And that is why, we at The Hard Tackle are predicting Sunday’s game to end in a tightly-contested score draw.