Chelsea host Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Monday night, as the race for the Premier League top four enters the final straight.
The Blues go into the game just one point behind Tottenham Hotspur in third, but with Arsenal and Manchester United playing on Sunday, Maurizio Sarri will need to take all three points if he is to keep hopes alive of a Champions League qualification spot.
Burnley’s controversial win over Cardiff City last weekend looks to have secured their Premier League survival for another season, with the Clarets needing just a single draw to reach the fabled 40-point mark.
Sean Dyche’s side have caused a couple of problems against the ‘big six’ this season, drawing away at Old Trafford and beating Spurs at Turf Moor last month, which may be cause for concern for Chelsea.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?
||Monday 22 April
|What Time Is Kick Off?
|Where Is It Played?
|TV Channel/Live Stream?
||Sky Sports Premier League
Eden Hazard will have needed some serious TLC over the past few days after the attention paid to him by Slavia Prague players in Thursday’s 4-3 Europa League win, but Sarri confirmed the Belgian should be fit and ready for Burnley’s visit.
Monday’s fixture may come too soon for defender Antonio Rudiger, who suffered a knee injury against Liverpool last weekend, but the German international should be available for the trip to Manchester United next Sunday.
Sean Dyche has a fully fit squad disposal with changes likely to be limited, if there are any, from the 2-0 win over Cardiff.
||Kepa; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Christensen, Emerson; Jorginho, Kante, Loftus-Cheek; Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Hazard.
||Heaton; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Barnes, Wood.
Head to Head Record
Historically, it’s Burnley who just about edge Chelsea out in this contest with 38 wins to the Blues’ 36. However, the Clarets have won just one meeting since 1983, which came on their last visit to Stamford Bridge last August.
On the opening day of last season, Burnley famously beat the defending champions Chelsea 3-2 in a game which set the tone for Antonio Conte’s second season in charge.
This season’s reverse fixture was an entirely different story – a 4-0 Chelsea romp at Turf Moor – but this was during Sarri’s rosy unbeaten start in October, when the Blues were looking like title contenders. How times have changed.
After a strong run of four consecutive wins, Sarri appeared to have galvanised his Chelsea team for the business end of the season, but the defeat to Liverpool and a dismal second half display against Slavia Prague has dampened the mood once more at Stamford Bridge.
Meanwhile, Burnley are in great form – picking up three wins from three at the perfect time – and look to have escaped a relegation battle in which they were very much involved for most of the season.
The Clarets are also looking strong on the road, losing just two of their previous six away from home.
Here’s how both teams have performed in their last five fixtures.
|Chelsea 4-3 Slavia Prague (18/4)
||Burnley 2-0 Cardiff (13/4)
|Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea (14/4)
||Bournemouth 1-3 Burnley (6/4)
|Slavia Prague 0-1 Chelsea (11/4)
||Burnley 2-0 Wolves (30/3)
|Chelsea 2-0 West Ham (8/4)
||Burnley 1-2 Leicester (16/3)
|Chelsea 3-0 Brighton (3/4)
||Liverpool 4-2 Burnley (10/3)
Chelsea should have enough quality and motivation to bat Burnley aside on Monday night, but despite still being in contention for a top four spot and a Europa League trophy, their frailties are clear as day and Burnley are definitely a team who can exploit that.
If the Blues turn up and play as confidently and freely as they did against West Ham last Monday, there should be no contest. But unfortunately for Chelsea fans, those days are few and far between under Sarri.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Burnley