Chelsea vs. Watford
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Chelsea take on Watford in the Premier League this afternoon knowing that victory could potentially prove to be enough to seal a top-four spot in the standings.
Maurizio Sarri will be relatively satisfied that his side remains in contention to achieve their goals in two competitions at this stage of the campaign, but the Italian is still under pressure to rotate his squad effectively over the next week.
The Blues have squandered chances to have one hand on a top-four place in the Premier League table and one foot in the Europa League final, and it leaves Sarri having to commit to winning every match.
Sarri acknowledged that his side could have defeated each of Manchester United and Eintracht Frankfurt in their last two fixtures, although there were still positives to take from registering 1-1 draws at Old Trafford and the Commerzbank-Arena.
Earning a share of the spoils at United at least kept their rivals three points behind in the race for Champions League qualification, while Pedro’s away goal in Germany has left the West Londoners in a position where victory in the second leg will set up a final against Arsenal or Valencia.
Sarri’s biggest issues are coming in defence due to injuries to their centre-backs, and it has resulted in Chelsea now going five matches without keeping a clean sheet.
That will only provide Watford with encouragement ahead of their visit to the capital, but the Hornets would be naive to dismiss Chelsea’s threat in the final third.
Pedro has not scored a Premier League goal since the end of February, but the Spaniard has netted four times in his last four outings in the Europa League.
Eden Hazard should also be well rested as he continues his pursuit of a 20th goal in all competitions this season, and the Belgian is due another having gone over 400 minutes without finding the back of the net.
On the other hand, Watford have spent much of the season as one of the main contenders to finish in seventh place in the standings, but the Hornets must now rely on other results if they are to achieve their best-ever finish in the Premier League.
Four defeats in seven outings have resulted in Javi Gracia’s men dropping down to 10th position, and it leaves Watford hoping that Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leicester City and Everton all drop points during their final two matches.
Watford will have a second chance to qualify for next season’s Europa League due to their meeting with Manchester City in the FA Cup final, but Gracia will want his side to push for two victories in their closing league fixtures.
Chelsea possible XI: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Barkley, Willian, Higuain, Hazard.
Watford possible XI: Foster, Janmaat, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas, Doucoure, Capoue, Hughes, Pereyra, Deeney, Deulofeu.