One game closer to the end of the season, but Chelsea are no closer to getting back into the top four than last week. Fortunately, despite the expected yet still disheartening defeat to Liverpool, we are no further either.
All three of Spurs, Arsenal, and Manchester United lost this weekend, to Manchester City, Crystal Palace (at home!) and Everton, respectively, which means that with all teams on 34 games, Chelsea are still just a single point out of third place and only out of the top four on goal difference.
That does still mean that we continue to not control our destiny, and will need either Spurs or Arsenal to drop more points in the remaining games. But if they do, we need to be there to take advantage, and that can only happen if we get back on the winning track, starting with Monday’s game against Burnley, the easiest fixture left on the schedule.
Date / Time: Monday, April 22, 2019, 20:00 BST; 3pm EDT; 12:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Kevin Friend — Mr. Not-my-friend is back for the fourth time this season, for the 27th Chelsea match of his career. We last saw him in our exit from the FA Cup, the 2-0 home defeat to Manchester United. Let’s hope we do better this time!
Forecast: Practically scorching, with temperatures hovering around 20°C at kick-off.
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBCSN (USA), Star Sports Select HD1 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live (USA); Hotstar (India); Fubo (affiliate link — USA only)
Chelsea team news: Antonio Rüdiger is the only confirmed absentee for the Blues, who look to keep things a bit less dramatic than in Thursday’s 4-3 win over Slavia Prague. Rüdiger could be back next weekend, though that may be a hopeful prognosis for any a knee injury.
Marcos Alonso (butt of jokes, to add to butt injury) and Eden Hazard (“strong knock”) are doubtful for this game — if the latter is to be rested at any point from now until the end of the season, this is the time to do it. Neither Willian nor Hudson-Odoi started on Thursday and thus should be primed and ready to go.
With all other top four contenders losing this weekend, Chelsea have a fantastic opportunity to keep up the fight and put the pressure on the others, who will play their games-in-hand midweek.
Burnley: The Clarets may have snapped back to reality after on their 7th place finish (and Europa League qualification) of last season, but they survive to fight another season in the top flight, and that’s a decent accomplishment by any measure.
As they are safe, they have little to fight for, though with players like Ashley Barnes, Jack Cork, and Phil Bardsley, they may not be aware of the concept of taking things easy — which may yet see them have a say in the fight for the top four as well as the title race. They face Manchester City, Everton, and Arsenal in their last three games.
Meanwhile, Dwight McNeil continues to make an impact at just 19 years old, and has already gotten linked to most teams in the top half of the table.
Previously: It was not close in the first meeting this season, with Chelsea running riot at Turf Moor, 4-0.