Chelsea need to win on the final day of the season, as they travel to face Aston Villa. The Blues have their fate in their own hands, following a win against top four rivals Leicester City during the week. However, they will be wary of a Villa side that have been a threat to the big teams this season. In their last game, they beat Tottenham away from home and they will want to take momentum into next season with another win against a top six team.
Although Aston Villa won’t finish in the top ten, they will be encouraged about their improvements under Dean Smith this season. They were battling against relegation in their first season back in the top flight, but they have pushed on and they will be hoping that further improvements are made during the summer. When they look back at this season, they will wonder what they could have achieved if Jack Grealish would have stayed fit for the entire season. His injury did cause a drop in their performances and results. They will hope to keep him for at least one more campaign.
For Chelsea, the equation is simple. They need to win on Sunday to confirm their place in next season’s Champions League. If they fail to pick up three points, they will be reliant on Crystal Palace or Tottenham doing them a favour on the final day. Thomas Tuchel will see third place as a success, considering where they were when he took over. The German will want to guard against a disappointing end to the season, as they will need momentum to take into the Champions League final.
Aston Villa have kept 15 clean sheets in the Premier League. Only Chelsea and Manchester City have kept more this season.
Olivier Giroud has scored ten goals against Aston Villa during his career. They are the opponent he does best against.
This is a great opportunity for Jack Grealish to remind Gareth Southgate of his quality in a big match. It has been a frustrating second half of the season for the Aston Villa talisman due to injury. However, he returned to the starting eleven and performed very well against Tottenham during the week. Although it is now unlikely that he will start for England at the Euros, he is playing his way into contention and he will hope to perform in a similar fashion on Sunday. Against Tottenham, Grealish had three shots, made four key passes and completed two dribbles. It wasn’t his free-flowing best, but it was encouraging to see how influential he was. He didn’t manage to get a goal or assist, but his return clearly helped Villa perform much better in possession and they carried a much bigger threat. Grealish will be the player that Chelsea are most wary of.
Mason Mount is a player likely to start for England this summer, as he is trusted by Gareth Southgate. He has been the standout player for Chelsea this season, as he has gone from strength to strength under Thomas Tuchel. Some worried that the change of manager would have a negative impact on the homegrown talent, but he has continued to play a prominent role in the starting eleven. This season, he has contributed six goals and five assists. Mount will want to improve these numbers next season, if he is to establish himself as one of the best players in the division. That is the next step for the midfielder and he could yet enhance his reputation further with a starring performance in the Champions League final. First, he will want to make sure his team finishes in the top four and perform well at Villa Park.
Ross Barkley won’t be available to face his parent club. Morgan Sanson and Matty Cash will be unavailable for the final match of the season.
Andreas Christensen and Kai Havertz should be back available for the visitors. N’Golo Kante’s injury isn’t as bad as first feared, but he could be held back with the Champions League final.
The return of Grealish carries a threat to Chelsea, as this game will be a lot more difficult than it would have been previously. Villa were impressive against Tottenham and they will want to put on a performance for their home supporters. That said, Chelsea would have been concerned about throwing away a top four finish when they lost to Arsenal. They won’t make the same mistake again and they will get the job done.
Aston Villa 0-2 Chelsea