Verdict: Both teams to score
Best odds: 3/4
Back in March, when the 2019/20 Premier League season was brought to a halt by the raging pandemic, there were some who thought the day when its final round would be played wouldn’t come, but here we are. On Sunday, the 20 teams will take to the pitches for one last time and finish the campaign.
Of course, there are things that have been known for a while now. Liverpool have won the title. Manchester City are set to finish runners-up, Norwich City have been relegated. But there are still things to be settled, not least for Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers who will take each other on at Stamford Bridge.
The season Chelsea have had and the work done by manager Frank Lampard contained therein is certainly worthy of praise. Having parted ways with Eden Hazard, previously the main star of the team, last summer, they had a transfer ban imposed and made no signings in January either. Still, the former midfielder made the best of the situation by bringing a number of youngsters to the fore, and they largely repaid his trust.
The Blues will enter the final day of the season in fourth place with 63 points to their name, the same as Manchester United in third but only one more than Leicester City in fifth. It means a point here would be enough to see them land a spot in next season’s Champions League, whatever happens at the King Power Stadium where the Foxes will be hosting United.
Chelsea’s recent form in the league hasn’t been that great, however. Of their last six matches, they won three and lost three, though with the FA Cup semifinal triumph against United squeezed between the latest one and the one before. And speaking of the latest one, it was a 5-3 defeat in a thrilling game away to Liverpool on Wednesday, in which they almost produced a fabulous comeback after going 4-1 down.
Having missed the five previous matches, midfielder N’Golo Kante is a huge doubt for this game. Defender Fikayo Tomori and midfielder Billy Gilmour are also very likely to miss out.
Lampard has a few difficult decisions to make. Both Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham scored in the Anfield defeat as the young striker came on to replace the experienced Frenchman, but there will likely be a place for only one of them in the starting XI again. Christian Pulisic has probably made the strongest case for himself to start with a brilliant cameo in that game, assisting Abraham before he slammed in a goal of his own. If Lampard goes with him, one of Willian or Mason Mount should start on the bench.
If Lampard has done a good job at Chelsea, the work of Nuno Espirito Santo can only be described as fabulous. Despite Chelsea being among the richest clubs in England, playing at home at being in a dire need of a result, Wolves certainly won’t come to Stamford Bridge without a chance to leave with all three points. And just like Chelsea, they need them badly.
The visitors will travel to London in sixth place with 59 points, and a win would guarantee them a place in the Europa League for the second season in a row. That would without a doubt constitute a huge success, given that they only returned to the Premier League in 2018. Tottenham Hotspur are the team that could thwart their efforts, being only a point behind as they travel to London as well to face 14th-place Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
What’s more, Wolves have a slightly better tally from their last six league matches than Chelsea, with three wins, a draw and two defeats.
Espirito Santo has no injury or suspension worries ahead of the game, which means he should have the full squad at his disposal.
Raul Jimenez is set to lead the line upfront again, but it remains to be seen who starts beside him with Adama Traore, Diogo Jota and Daniel Podence all in contention.
Needing only a point from this game, Chelsea are likely to seek control of the proceedings and slow the game down. A draw could yet be enough for Wolves as well, but it wouldn’t guarantee them anything so they’ll probably try to disrupt Chelsea’s plans as much as they can and hit them hard through the pace of their attackers as often as possible.
It’s likely to be a lively affair with the ball being moved quickly from one end of the pitch to the other, and both teams should have enough chances to put the ball in the opposition net.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best odds: 3/4
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