Chelsea vs. Wolves
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick off: 4PM
Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers meet at Stamford Bridge this afternoon with their European fate in their own hands.
The Blues are in possession of the final Champions League qualifying spot and Wolves are in sixth, which would be enough to seal another season of Europa League football.
Has the 2019-20 campaign, Frank Lampard’s first as Chelsea head coach, been a successful one for the Blues?
That is a question that cannot be answered for another week or so.
Operating under transfer constraints and with star man Eden Hazard no longer at the club, a top-four finish for Chelsea and FA Cup silverware would undoubtedly make this an impressive maiden campaign in the Stamford Bridge dugout for club legend Lampard.
Chelsea can tick off the first of those aims on Sunday with victory against Wolves, which would take them to 66 points for the season – six fewer than they managed in Maurizio Sarri’s only campaign at the helm.
Only then can focus turn to next weekend’s FA Cup showdown against Arsenal, with the Blues booking their place in the final with a 3-1 victory over Manchester United last week.
The Blues could actually lose on Sunday and still finish in the top four, meanwhile, with the two sides either side of them facing off at the King Power Stadium at the same time.
Manchester United are above Chelsea on goal difference alone, while Leicester City are a point worse off but have a far superior goal difference.
Should Chelsea draw against Wolves then they will be hoping for a Man U victory in the East Midlands to stop Leicester from overtaking them in fourth place.
Lampard will be targeting a victory on home soil to ensure that other factors do not come into play, but his side have lost two of their last three league games.
That is as many defeats as they had suffered in their previous 11 outings, with Chelsea’s poor defensive setup being exposed by Sheffield United and Liverpool in 3-0 and 5-3 losses.
Wolves will be looking to become the latest side to exploit Chelsea’s backline and they head into the game with a bit of momentum on their side after recovering from a recent blip.
Back-to-back losses to Arsenal and Sheffield United effectively killed off Wanderers’ top-four aspirations, but they have since seen off Everton and Crystal Palace, either side of drawing against in-form Burnley.
Like opponents Chelsea, Wolves will have an eye on other results this weekend in their battle to finish above Tottenham Hotspur – one point worse off in seventh – and secure Europa League football.
That will provide Nuno Espirito Santo’s men with a safety net of sorts as they could yet be competing in the Champions League next season should they go all the way in this term’s Europa League.
Wolves are locked at 1-1 with Olympiacos ahead of their rearranged last-16 second leg early next month and will be eager to keep their momentum going into that match.
oals in total, including a hat-trick in the Blues’ 5-2 win in the reverse fixture.
As for Wolves, Nuno has no injury or suspension issues ahead of this trip to West London.
Wanderers cannot afford to look ahead to their Europa League tie with Olympiacos just yet, with Nuno needing to name his strongest possible XI on Sunday.
Daniel Podence has impressed since last month’s restart and is expected to start again alongside key man Raul Jimenez, making it a shootout between Adama Traore and Diogo Jota for the other spot in attack.
Chelsea possible XI: Kepa, James, Rudiger, Zouma, Azpilicueta, Kovacic, Jorginho, Mount, Willian, Giroud, Pulisic.
Wolves possible XI: Patricio, Boly, Coady, Saiss, Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny, Podence, Jimenez, Jota.