Chelsea are looking to wrap up their season with a win against Cardiff, despite having nothing to play for on the final day of the Premier League season.
After Man City’s win over Aston Villa on Wednesday the Blues are now unable to win the Premier League title, but they finish second if Liverpool lose at home to Newcastle. We can’t see that happening, however, so it looks like both sides will be playing for pride in this one now that Cardiff are definitely down.
The Bluebirds’ fate was sealed last week as their defeat at Newcastle, and Sunderland’s win at Old Trafford, ended their one-year stay in the Premier League. The Welsh side have looked like relegation candidates ever since they sacked Malky McKay, but they’ll be hoping to finish the season on a relative high of beating Jose Mourinho’s men.
Chelsea would still be in title contention, had they not slipped up to another relegated side, Norwich City, last week. That draw was symptomatic of Chelsea’s season, failing to break down a resilient but less talented team. Mourinho has said Chelsea need to invest in a striker before next season, but they’ll have to make do with what they have for their trip to South Wales.
Demba Ba led the line against Norwich, but he drew a blank and put in another forgettable performance. Fernando Torres scored in his last start, and Mourinho is likely to pick the Spaniard ahead of Samuel Eto’o for this one. If speculation is correct, this could the final chance any of Chelsea’s three strikers get to line up for the Blues.
Oscar and Ramires are the only players missing in midfield, while Eden hazard could make his first league start in over a month. John Obi Mikel, who Mourinho said could move from Stamford Bridge this summer, could be making his final Chelsea appearance.
We could see a few of Chelsea’s young defenders on show at Cardiff, with Tomas Kalas impressing in his debut at Anfield. With no title to push for, Mourinho may rotate his usual back four. Ashley Cole, who is out of contract at the end of the season, will likely play as it doesn’t look like he has a future at the club. Mark Schwarzer will continue in goal, with Petr Cech still injured.
Despite having little to play for, the Blues should still be looking to add three points to the board. Mourinho, who ruled out Chelsea’s title chances earlier in the season, said his aim was to finish as close to the top as possible, after all.
A third placed finish, and automatic qualification for the Champions League group stages, was secured last week in that draw with Norwich. Chelsea aren’t playing for anything other than pride, although for some this will be a final appearance in Chelsea blue so we would expect at least one or two players to put in a good performance which should be enough to scrape the three points.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 1-0