The Premier League season has been a disappointing one for Chelsea, but they go into the last day with a chance of a top-four finish. They have to travel to Newcastle and pick up three points to have any chance. Meanwhile, Liverpool will have to lose at home to Brighton. It seems unlikely that both results will go in favour of last season’s Champions, but stranger things have happened on the final day before.
Rafa Benitez will be pleased with his team this season, as they stayed up with comfort. Although they have lost their last four matches, they go into the last day with a chance of finishing in the top ten and that would be a huge achievement. They will likely need a win against Chelsea, but previous home victories against Manchester United and Arsenal will give them hope that they can get another famous three points.
It is normal for Chelsea to be entering a summer with more questions than answers and that will be the case once this season ends. Antonio Conte hasn’t looked happy for a long time and it would be a surprise if he is leading the rebuild after the FA Cup final. Their failure to beat Huddersfield Town during the week underlined the problems they have faded this season. The Blues haven’t been able to kill games off and have been too sloppy at the back. That is why they are unlikely to finish in the top four on Sunday.
Newcastle have only scored once in their last four matches. Benitez will point towards this as proof that he needs to be given funds to sign a striker this summer.
Chelsea have won their last three away Premier League matches. They will be favourites to make it four this weekend.
Mohamed Diame has emerged as one of the best Newcastle players during the second half of the season. He and Shelvey have formed a formidable partnership, which has been one of the key reasons why the Magpies have been able to secure survival with a number of matches to play. Chelsea will look to dominate the central areas on Sunday and it will be up to the Senegalese midfielder to make sure that the home side has a chance of getting a positive result. He averages 2.48 tackles won and 2.37 interceptions per ninety minutes, which underlines his worth to the team. There have been few better in the league at winning back possession and he will need to be at his best on Sunday to give his team opportunities to attack.
There have been plenty of rumours regarding the future for Eden Hazard, as Real Madrid continue to be mentioned as a possible destination for the attacker this summer. It hasn’t been a superb season for the Belgian international, but he consistently influences games in a positive manner and he deserves credit for that. Newcastle will look to set up deep to frustrate the visitors and the trickery of Hazard could be crucial in gaining the three points. There are few better at creating space both for himself and his team-mates when dribbling with the ball. This season, he has contributed 12 goals and four assists. This weekend, he will want to add to his tally and go into the FA Cup final with momentum.
Kenedy won’t be available for the home side as he is on loan from Chelsea. Newcastle fans will be hoping he hasn’t played his final game for the club. Islam Slimani is suspended, while Ciaran Clark and Christian Atsu won’t feature as both are suffering from injuries.
Thibaut Courtois is likely to start this weekend after recovering from a back injury. Eden Hazard and Olivier Giroud are both set for recalls to the starting eleven.
Chelsea will have to go to St James’ Park with the intention of winning and that will make for an interesting game. Newcastle are much better at playing without the ball and will look to sit deep and soak in pressure. However, they will be looking to win the game and their pace on the counter-attack could hurt the visitors. Jonjo Shelvey has been very impressive in recent weeks and his passing range could prove key in the match. I’m predicting a score draw and sorry end to the season for Chelsea.