Chelsea will lift the Premier League trophy for a fourth time at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and opponents Sunderland also have cause to celebrate.
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side confirmed their status as champions two weeks ago with a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace and, although there were jubilant scenes on the field and in the stands following that game, the official title ceremony will take place this weekend on the final day.
Mourinho’s men have been dominant this season, especially in the second half of the campaign, and – despite a surprise 3-0 loss at West Brom on Monday – could finish 2014-15 as many as 11 points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City.
But the Portuguese believes Sunday will struggle to top the euphoria of securing top spot against Palace.
“The trophy object means less than the feeling. For me the feeling was Crystal Palace,” he said.
“I understand people need time to organise things and the ceremony needs time. But the reality is for me when you do it.”
While Chelsea cruised to the title, Sunderland have battled at the opposite end of the table, but head into Sunday able to play without pressure after securing survival on Wednesday.
A gritty 0-0 draw at Arsenal ensured the club will retain its Premier League status next season and completed a fine rescue job by Dick Advocaat, who has picked up 12 points from his eight matches in charge.
Advocaat, who is set to make a decision over his future next week, was unable to keep his emotions in check when the survival mission was successful and brought him to tears.
“I was not intending to do it [cry]. It was [assistant] Bert [van Lingen]’s fault,” he said. “From the beginning when we arrived here, together with everybody who was involved with the club, we gave everything to them and them to us to stay up.
“Then when he started, I couldn’t stop it any more. But I don’t care about that. It was a big, big relief. If you get a draw at Arsenal, knowing otherwise what could happen on Sunday, it’s a great, great feeling.”
Goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, the hero of that stalemate at Arsenal, will miss Sunday’s clash due to a knee injury, while striker Danny Graham (ankle) is doubtful.
Mourinho may be without Eden Hazard, who had surgery to remove three wisdom teeth on Wednesday, and Cesc Fabregas following his red card at West Brom. Ramires (illness) and Kurt Zouma (knee) are doubtful.
Should he fail to recover in time, it would be the first time that Hazard has missed a league game this season. Captain John Terry is set to complete his record of playing every minute of the campaign.
Branislav Ivanovic has also started every match, missing only a couple of minutes when he was sent off in stoppage time of the 1-1 draw at Manchester United back in October.
Mourinho hinted on Friday that he will give Premier League debuts to Andreas Christensen and Jeremie Boga, both part of this season’s UEFA Youth League-winning side.
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