Date: Sunday 23rd May 2021
Venue: Villa Park
Kick-off: 16:00 BST
The win against Leicester midweek will be completely irrelevant if we don’t win today, as we travel to the Midlands to face Aston Villa in our last Premier League game of the season. We really didn’t need to be in a dogfight for a Champions League place but effectively put ourselves there with the recent defeat to Arsenal. On the other hand, there was a time this season when we’d have given our right arm to be in exactly this position, and here we are.
Villa won their game midweek and looked impressive against Spurs with Grealish back. They will finish 11th in the table whatever the outcome today and have significantly improved on last season when they came into the last day battling to avoid the drop, so there will be nothing weighing heavy for them today and any pressure will be all on Chelsea.
Many will have regarded our win Tuesday night as ‘revenge’ for defeat in the FA Cup but for Chelsea that will have been largely irrelevant because the league win taking us above Leicester into third place was much more important. Most of us accepted we didn’t play well enough in the cup, or at least we accepted it until we saw the ‘offside’ call for what it was – just another in a long line of bad calls we’ve had to put up with – but managed to overcome the ref, VAR and Leicester when it really mattered.
Our work is far from done though and Villa are going to be a really tough side for us to face with everything so tight. There is just one point in it at the start of the final day, and no point worrying about what Liverpool and Leicester do because neither of them have difficult games and you’d expect both to take three points. There’s even less point hanging anything on the Champions League final because if we go into that one with any sort of pressure on us, City, with another Premier League title won with time to spare, are nailed on to make the outcome as painful as possible. So realistically, a win today is a must if we want to guarantee Champions League football next season.
It’s the hope that can kill you.
Going into today’s game, Aston Villa manager Dean Smith, says “We have many motivating factors and we certainly won’t be lying down. We will be going all out to win the game. We know how important it is to finish with momentum. We did it last year and ended up winning our first four games this season, which set us up nicely. We will be going all out to try to beat Chelsea. We know they are a very good team, very well coached. But we have shown over the last five or six matches we are capable of fighting with anyone. Chelsea are a very tough team and we have to go and match their levels. I believe we can do that and the players will believe we can as well.”
Thomas Tuchel meanwhile, says “It’s a completely different set-up – an away game with away fans against a strong Aston Villa side who play without any pressure. So it’s a very big challenge but we’re up for it. The supporters will have the same affect for their side. It’s an advantage for them, it makes things absolutely more difficult, no doubt about it, but it’s so much nicer and such a different game to play with spectators. We know that it increases the challenge, increases the adversity but we are here to step up. We have it in our hands and we want to do it until the very end. In terms of having fans they clearly have an advantage, but in terms of points I think they would like to change with us. It was a strange situation to have no fans so everyone was very happy to have fans back for the last two matches and then it’s equal, you have one home and one away match. It makes things more difficult but it’s just an obstacle to overcome.”
For Aston Villa, Matt Cash (hamstring) and Morgan Sanson (knee) remain out and Trezeguet (knee) is not expected to return, although Jack Grealish is fit. Ross Barkley is ineligible to play.
For Chelsea, Kai Havertz (muscle) and N’Golo Kante (hamstring) face late fitness tests, whilst Andreas Christensen (tendon) returns.
ASTON VILLA (Possible line-up): Martinez; Konsa, Hause, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Nakamba; Traore, Grealish, El Ghazi; Watkins
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kovacic, Jorginho, Chilwell; Pulisic, Mount; Werner
Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea (21st June 2020)
CURRENT FORM (PL)
ASTON VILLA: DWLDLW
- Villa have lost 10 of the past 12 league meetings.
- Chelsea have won three successive away league games against Villa.
- Only Chelsea and Manchester City have kept more Premier League clean sheets than Villa’s this season.
- Emiliano Martinez has equalled the club’s Premier League record for most clean sheets by a goalkeeper in a season.
- Aston Villa have failed to win their final league match in any of their past six top-flight campaigns
- Chelsea’s have lost once on the final day of a Premier League season in the past nine years.
- Chelsea have earned 38 points from their last 18 league matches
- Chelsea are unbeaten in 12 away matches in all competitions
BBC Sport: Aston Villa 0-2 Chelsea
Sky Sports: Aston Villa 1-1 Chelsea
Sportsmole: Aston Villa 0-2 Chelsea