Chelsea FC

‘London Bragging Rights Remain At Stake For Chelsea’

Chelsea will want to sign off the season at Stamford Bridge with a positive result when Leicester City visit on Thursday, says Simon Johnson of The Athletic.
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- Chelsea host Leicester City in the Premier League on Thursday night (8pm kick-off)
- The encounter will be Thomas Tuchel side’s final fixture at Stamford Bridge this term
- The Athletic’s Simon Johnson assessed Chelsea season ahead of the game
- Avoiding defeat against the Foxes would all-but assure the Blues of a third-place finish

The pair face off in their penultimate fixture of the campaign, an 8pm kick-off in the capital, with the Blues able to confirm a third-place finish in the Premier League should they triumph over the Foxes for the second time this term.

While Arsenal are now unable to catch Thomas Tuchel’s side, Tottenham Hotspur sit two points behind in fourth and are poised to try and leapfrog Chelsea on the final day should they slip up against Leicester this evening.  

Speaking to LCFC TV’s Matchday Live show ahead of the encounter, Johnson says recent frustrations of losing the FA Cup Final and conceding two late goals against Wolverhampton Wanderers in their last home fixture, will increase motivation to give the supporters something to cheer.

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Chelsea FC
Chelsea FC

Romelu Lukaku scored in Chelsea' 3-0 win over Leeds United - their last Premier League outing.

He commented: “There is still third place to play for if that is a target for a club like Chelsea and they are still yet to secure it. They should do, but London bragging rights do mean something. They’ll also want to say goodbye to their fans in more positive fashion.

"There’s two home games left and this is where Chelsea have struggled. Their season has been effectively ruined by poor home form, both in the Premier League and as the setting for the 3-1 loss to Real Madrid, which they almost clawed back, but eventually went out, essentially because of how they played in the first leg.”

Providing some early team news, the hosts are expected to be missing two centre-backs, while in midfield, Mateo Kovačić and Kai Havertz are both doubts. Further forward, Timo Werner is out of contention, but they are likely to still possess a squad full of world-class talents.

“Chelsea are going to be without [Andreas] Christensen and there’s a good chance Thiago Silva won’t play,” Johnson predicted. “If you’re going to play with a back three with Silva missing, you don’t want to miss someone with Antonio Rudiger’s experience and seniority. He looked fine on Saturday, so I’d be surprised if he doesn’t play.

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Chelsea FC
Chelsea FC

Chelsea's players console Mason Mount after his penalty miss in the shootout defeat to Liverpool last weekend.

“It is a chance to refresh the squad a bit, perhaps give minutes to players who haven’t had that much game time lately. He has really used a set group of players and there have been a few injuries, some picked up on Saturday in the cup final. The biggest challenge for Tuchel will be to get into these players and try to get them motivated for this game.

"Perhaps that’s where changes will help, getting a few of those players who haven’t played that much in the team because they’ll be willing to make an impression, whether that’s to try and prove to Tuchel that they can be part of things for next season, or impress a club that they want to join next season.”

Assessing Chelsea’s season, which began with an European trophy, but ended in defeat to Liverpool in both the Carabao Cup and Emirates FA Cup finals, Johnson believes injuries to key players derailed what was a positive opening to 2021/22.

The journalist explained: “Because of two shootout defeats in the domestic cup finals, there’s probably an element of disappointment, overall. The expectations and feelings were so positive in the earlier part of the season.

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Chelsea FC
Chelsea FC

The Blues won two trophies this term, including the FIFA World Club Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

“When the teams last met at King Power Stadium, a 3-0 victory, it was when Chelsea were in their pomp, the wing-backs were flying, Reece James and Ben Chilwell, but they lost both through injury for too much of the season.

“They are a key part of Chelsea’s attacking play and since November their form has been very patchy. By most clubs' standards, they’d still say it was a good season. They’ve got the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup for the first time in their history.

“But those cups were the result of what they did last season by winning the Champions League. The FA Cup Final defeat has put a bit of a negative feeling around.”

All times BST.

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