Date: Thursday 19th May 2022
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Courtesy of Arsenal’s customary end of season fade-out, we were guaranteed top four without kicking a ball Monday night. Tonight though, we still need to put the effort in against Leicester if we are going to finish third. Well, technically we only need a point from our last two games but, with Conte making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear again (déjà vu there), and that sow’s ear only playing Norwich on the final day, it’s almost inevitable we’ll do it the hard way.
We come into the game off the back of yet another 120 minutes, followed by being on the losing side of a penalty shootout to the media darlings, so spirits won’t exactly be flying despite a 3-0 win over Leeds in the league last time out. The media are also doing their level best to destabilise us, with the rumours of doom running in parallel with every Chelsea game, so UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup aside, I’d bet our players will be as glad to see the back of this season as some of us.
Leicester, on the other hand, seem to have found their shooting boots of late and the five they put past Watford at Vicarage Road, makes it 8 in their last 2 games. They could go above Wolves into eighth place with a win and whilst that would surprise no-one given we’ve won just four of our last 12 at home, Leicester haven’t managed a clean sheet in six away games in the league, so they’ll be hoping to see Charity FC turn up tonight.
Going into today’s game, Thomas Tuchel, says “I refuse to judge the season by two penalty shootouts. If we won both, it would be one of the most successful seasons with four titles. We lost two but it doesn’t make it less impressive what the team put in. But we’re the first to admit that it’s not the same to play a final and win a final. So it’s a bit of an imbalance judging the season given the circumstances. We struggled with corona, long-term injuries, a war that had a big effect on our club in particular. There’s always room for improvement but we arrived in this [FA Cup] with key players out, Mateo and N’Golo with only half a training session, with the club sanctions, there is a lot of things that are impressive. Hopefully, we can come third and that is progression. We maybe compete against the best teams to play in this league. So from there we go. There is no need to lose sleep and think we should’ve done this and this. There is a lot of ambition in us that we are not satisfied. I feel different levels of disappointment after matches, finals, and losses in general. Everyone was disappointed and sad but we had the feeling we left it all out there. Arguably we deserved more in these two finals but Liverpool deserved too. We had no regrets. This is a level of disappointment and loss you can get over quickly because you are ok with yourself. It’s what we demand of ourselves and demand of them. Yesterday’s training was good, with the atmosphere we want. We had two days off to digest it and we want to be ready.
It’s not a good moment to start now to be fourth. We still have our demands and what we demand of ourselves. We are happy we secured a top-four place, this is the first target when we start the season. But still, it’s two home games and we will do everything to win them.
Not sure if I like open games so much. [Leicester] found their form and score a lot lately. They’ve had an up and down season but at their top level, they can hurt everybody. We will prepare for the very best version of Leicester and we will need the very best version of us to be competitive.”
Leicester manager, Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, says “I’m a big admirer of Chelsea and the team and the work Thomas has done there. I would go as far as to say they are the best team we have played this season. When we played them early on in the season they were at the top of their game. I thought they were outstanding. Not long after that moment they lost some players. I’ve said it before, even with squads like Chelsea’s you need your top players available. Over the course of the time they have had players out, key players who make the systems function to the highest level. Then obviously there’s the distractions behind the scenes and of course that’s a challenge. But what I do know is they’ve got an outstanding manager who has done a fantastic job since he’s been there. They’ve got a group of really good players, top, top talents.
I saw them lose in the FA Cup final but they have so much courage because they keep getting there. You’d rather be in there and losing finals – of course you want to win – but you’d rather be arriving there knowing it’s going to drop your way and you’re going to win in the future. So they are a top team, with top players and they are in the Champions League next season, and I expect them to be up there challenging again next season.”
For Chelsea, Ben Chilwell (knee), whilst back in training, is not expected to play competitively this season and remains out with Callum Hudson-Odoi. Werner (hamstring) is out, whilst Kovacic (ankle) and Havertz (hamstring) are major doubts. Christensen, meanwhile, appears to have ended his career at Chelsea as a persistent truant, and quite who else might have remained fit to play after another 120 minutes and penalties against Liverpool, is anyone’s guess.
For Leicester, Hamza Choudhury (groin), Wilfred Ndidi and Ryan Bertrand are out, whilst Youri Tielemans (knee) and Ricardo Pereira (hamstring) are doubtful. Papy Mendy (illness) may return and Kasper Schmeichel is expected to start after being rested against Watford.
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Alonso; Mount, Ziyech, Lukaku
LEICESTER (Possible line-up): Schmeichel; Castagne, Fofana, Evans, Justin; Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall; Albrighton, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy
Chelsea 2-1 Leicester (18th May 2021)
CURRENT FORM (PL)
- Chelsea have not completed a league double against Leicester since the 2016-17 season.
- Leicester have only lost 2 of their past six Premier League games at Stamford Bridge.
- Chelsea dropped points in eight of their past 12 Premier League home games.
- Chelsea have conceded 10 goals in their last four top-flight home games.
- Leicester have conceded 16 Premier League goals from corners this season
- A draw tonight would be enough for Chelsea to finish third
- Leicester are vying to finish in the top half of the top flight for a fifth consecutive season.
- Chelsea have won five of 17 league matches this season against teams currently in the top half of the table (D8, L4).
Sportsmole: Chelsea 2-1 Leicester