Chelsea will aim to seal a third-placed finish in the Premier League when Leicester City make the journey to Stamford Bridge for Thursday’s top-flight battle. The Blues suffered FA Cup heartache to Liverpool at the weekend, while Brendan Rodgers’s side hit Watford for five at Vicarage Road. Third time was not the charm for Chelsea at Wembley, as after losing to Arsenal in the 2020 FA Cup final and their upcoming opponents Leicester last year, the Blues once again fell short in the showpiece event.
Three months on from being defeated by Liverpool in the EFL Cup final via a penalty shootout, Chelsea and the Reds did not bring their best shooting boots to Wembley for the FA Cup final, where Cesar Azpilicueta and Mason Mount’s missed spot kicks proved fatal. The Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup will therefore represent Chelsea’s only pieces of silverware this season, but Arsenal’s defeat to Newcastle United on Monday night means that Thomas Tuchel’s side are guaranteed to finish in the top four and will seal third with all three points in midweek.
A 3-0 thumping of Leeds United did at least end a three-game winless run in the Premier League for Chelsea last week, but Stamford Bridge has not been kind to the Blues in recent months, with Tuchel’s side winning just four of their last 12 in front of their own fans. The capital club have at least found the back of the net in all of those matches and will welcome the visit of a hapless Watford side to their turf on the final day – opponents whom Leicester needed no second invitation to tear apart at the weekend. Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers acknowledges fans after the match on April 10, 2022 Jamie Vardy, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes – take your pick. Leicester’s trio of effervescent Englishmen all produced man-of-the-match worthy performances to put Watford to the sword after an early scare against the relegated Hornets.
Watford certainly threatened more after Joao Pedro’s sixth-minute opener, but Vardy’s brace, Barnes’s double and assist and Maddison’s goal and two assists all helped turn the tie around for Leicester, who are doing their utmost to end the season with a flourish. Rodgers’s side can forget about the prospect of competing on the continent next season but would rise above Wolverhampton Wanderers into eighth place with a win at Stamford Bridge, with a top-half finish surely now the minimum requirement for the remainder of the campaign. Meeting Southampton at home on the final day represents an ideal way for Leicester to round off a turbulent campaign, but it is now six league games on the road without a clean sheet for the Foxes, who have also gone 25 years without winning their last away game of a Premier League season.
Chelsea stormed to a 3-0 win over Leicester at the King Power earlier this season, although their most recent league double over the Foxes came all the way back in 2016-17, and morale will not be at an all-time high in the Blues camp in the wake of further reports concerning the future of the club, or lack of. Chelsea have been rocked by allegations of Andreas Christensen refusing to play in the FA Cup final and disappearing from the team hotel on the morning of the game, and he could have pulled on the blue jersey for the final time ahead of his summer exit. Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi both remain out of contention, while Timo Werner is absent due to a fresh hamstring problem, and Klopp has concerns over Kai Havertz and Mateo Kovacic – the latter’s ankle problem has now swelled up again.
N’Golo Kante’s return to fitness could see the Frenchman return to the engine room after a bright cameo at Wembley, while Cesar Azpilicueta and Hakim Ziyech’s fresh legs could come in handy after two hours of action in the capital. Meanwhile, Leicester number one Kasper Schmeichel was surprisingly benched for Danny Ward in the win over Watford, but the Danish shot-stopper is expected to return to the XI for the trip to Chelsea. Nampalys Mendy was taken off early in that game due to sickness so may be spared from the off here, while Wilfred Ndidi, Ryan Bertrand and Ricardo Pereira remain sidelined alongside Hamza Choudhury, who has picked up a knock.
Marc Albrighton and Ademola Lookman are both ready to return to the starting lineup to cover for the affected Mendy in a slight change of shape for the visitors, who should otherwise stick with the winning formula from Vicarage Road.
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Rudiger; James, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso; Ziyech, Mount; Lukaku
Leicester City possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Castagne, Fofana, Evans, Justin; Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall; Albrighton, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy