Chelsea take on Aston Villa in their final Premier League game of the season with their Champions League qualification hopes in the balance
Chelsea take on Aston Villa in their final Premier League game of the season on Sunday afternoon as they look to secure their top-four status.
The Blues are currently sitting in third position in the top-flight table, one point above Liverpool and Leicester, who occupy the fourth and fifth spots, respectively.
A win for Thomas Tuchel’s men would guarantee their place in next season’s Champions League and confirm the remarkable job that the former Paris Saint-Germain boss has done since arriving at Stamford Bridge.
Tuesday night’s dramatic 2-1 win over the Foxes has put Chelsea in the driving seat for this final day top-four showdown and also exacted some revenge over Brendan Rodgers’ men for their FA Cup final defeat.
However, the capital club’s job is not done yet. Three points are likely to be needed over the weekend to prevent Jurgen Klopp’s men and Leicester from leapfrogging Chelsea in the table, meaning a tight, tense 90 minutes is on the cards.
Keeping a clean sheet could be crucial to the west London outfit’s chances on Sunday, and Edouard Mendy should, therefore, keep his place between the sticks.
The summer-signing is likely to have the experienced trio of Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger ahead of him, with Andreas Christensen continuing to suffer from a minor hamstring issue.
Out wide, England internationals Reece James and Ben Chilwell are set to keep their places in the starting XI after solid performances in midweek, but an injury to N’Golo Kante will force Tuchel into making a change in the Chelsea engine room.
The France international was substituted after just 32 minutes against Leicester with a muscle complaint and is expected to miss out against Villa as he aims to recover in time for the Champions League final on May 29.
Mateo Kovacic was Kante’s replacement on Tuesday night, making his first appearance after a five-game injury layoff and should partner Jorginho in the centre of the pitch as the duo look to provide some stability and control to Chelsea’s play.
Tuchel has a plethora of options in the forward positions, but an attacking trident of Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner wreaked havoc last time out and will be hopeful of keeping the likes of Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech on the bench.