Well, it’s finally here!
The grand finale of The Three Weeks That Will Decide the Season.
Only they haven’t, really. The first game against Barcelona was a draw that could have been a win, and two losses on the trot in Manchester always means CRISIS at Chelsea. However, the win against Crystal Palace combined with Liverpool’s loss to United (HA-ha!) puts us a point closer to the Champions League places. We’re just four points out with eight games to play, including games against ‘Pool themselves and Spurs.
And so, here we are. About to travel to Barcelona (well, the lucky ones are!) to decide Chelsea’s fate in Europe’s greatest club competition.
Conte’s press conference later today should confirm who’s available and who’s not, but nobody seemed to pick up any noticeable injuries against Palace, which means that David Luiz and his chronic knee injury is our only sure-fire absence — Barkley and Bakayoko returned to training last week, with the latter making a brief cameo on Saturday, even.
Conte has dropped hints that he’ll revert to the mighty mites up front again. Balance, playing both sides of the ball, can’t afford too many players on the pitch who can’t track back... when he says those things it can only mean that Eden Hazard is the one luxury he’ll allow himself in order to protect Chelsea’s goal, right?
Of course, Hazard is a luxurious luxury, the best kind of luxury. And the mighty-mite lineup worked rather well for 75 minutes at Stamford Bridge against the Blaugrana and quite easily could have produced more than one goal in the 1-1.
After this game will be Leicester City, on Sunday in the FA Cup. That game will not influence the lineup for this one. This one’s too big.