Chelsea play their penultimate game of the season on Monday night when they travel to the Hawthorns to take on West Brom. After wrapping up the title there’s only really pride to play for in the remaining fixtures, and this time around they face a side who are equally aimless. While that’s hardly anything to get excited about, it could well hint at the appearance of a few academy prospects.
Last time out Jose Mourinho dropped a huge surprise by picking Rueben Loftus-Cheek in the starting line up to face Liverpool, giving the youngster his full debut. The manager had said he wanted his side to focus on the remaining games, which hinted that he was going to be picking full strength sides. The appearance of the 19-year-old shows that there is a chance for young players to force their way into the team in these last few games, and possibly into the manager’s plans for next season.
Chelsea have a large squad of quality players that means they should be able to rotate in a game like this and still field a strong side. The likes of Juan Cuadrado springs to mind, as the Colombian has barely been seen since his January move. This could be a great chance for him, and possibly for Loftus-Cheek to get another run out. He certainly did enough on his debut to show that he can handle Premier League football.
West Brom will be sticking around for Premier League football next term, after Tony Pulis steered the club to safety this season. A Pulis side is always a difficult challenge, as the Blues know from facing his Crystal Palace side last season. The hosts are 13th in the table, but it’s hard to see them managing to finish any higher this term.
At this stage of the campaign, it’s only natural for minds to look ahead to next season. Loftus-Cheek is likely to be a full member of the senior squad next season, so fans will want another look at him in action. Hopefully a few of the main stars will be left out, as the likes of Diego Costa and co could do with a rest ahead of what will be a long campaign next year.
As well as the future, the game against the Baggies could be a moment to reflect on the past. Petr Cech and Didier Drogba have been fantastic servants to the club over the years, but they could both be out of the squad next season. Cech deserves first team football, while Drogba hasn’t agreed a deal for next term yet. Despite how good Costa and Thibaut Courtois have been this season, I think most fans would like to see the two legends start in the last two games.
These kinds of fixtures struggle to really excite anyone, but they are the reward for such an excellent season. Win, lose or draw, nothing can stop the party next weekend when Chelsea finally lift the Premier League trophy for the fourth time in 10 years.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0