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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Thomas Tuchel has hope of overcoming impossible Chelsea odds but Frank Lampard record stings

  After 62 games of highs, lows, injuries, COVID, VAR checks, Sky Italia interviews, sanctions, more VAR checks and more injuries, we hav...

 

After 62 games of highs, lows, injuries, COVID, VAR checks, Sky Italia interviews, sanctions, more VAR checks and more injuries, we have reached the end of Chelsea's season.

 With one more game left to play out on Sunday afternoon against an already relegated Watford, and with Champions League qualification and third-place secure, this really is the tamest end to a season full of drama.

By the time Chelsea bid farewell to the 2021/22 campaign, the hope will be they would have sent exhausted minds home happy with a win, one that would capture a ninth at home of the campaign. The lowest since the disastrous 2015/16 year where the defending Champions finished 10th.

It is quite remarkable that Chelsea's likely highest points tally since their last title win will be balanced with one of their poorest home records. Even the 66-point haul to qualify for the Champions League under Frank Lampard in 2019/20 brought with it 11 wins at the Bridge.

Thomas Tuchel has stressed the impact of key injuries to his squad this season. However, it is hard to make a serious case for this squad, even without Ben Chilwell being significantly weaker than the one Lampard inherited in 2019.

 It reflects the continuing gap between Chelsea and the league's top two, who could reach 15 wins for the season at home on Sunday – no matter who lifts the trophy.

Tuchel's approach

On the final day against an already relegated opponent, I would expect more rotation than on Thursday. Though given the final outings for the likes of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen , if the Danish defender is available, it would be nice to see both get one final appearance.

Although not confirmed, this could also be the final match for more players like Kepa Arrizabalaga , Marcos Alonso , Jorginho and any of the attackers who have been linked away at several points during the season.

As was pointed out on Thursday, the inclusion of an academy talent like Harvey Vale would be refreshing over names on the bench who are unlikely to have any significant future under Tuchel.

The Oppo

It probably feels a long time ago for Watford when the reverse fixture in December at Vicarage Road gave Chelsea several problems. That game, although a slim 2-1 win, was actually the start of the Blues' slide in the title dream.

Watford are heading back down to the Championship. The predictable manager merry-go- round continues, even more farcical than Chelsea's and looks to have finally caught up with The Hornets.

Even with parachute payments, the likes of Emmanuel Dennis, Ismaila Sarr and Cucho Hernandez could all be off this summer, with a difficult job ahead for newly appointed coach Rob Edwards, who just got Forest Green promoted from League 2.

A nice word for Roy Hodgson, who will be retiring from coaching after Sunday's game. A true gentleman and valued peer in the game, one who will hopefully get a nice reception from both sets of supporters on Sunday.

The Lineup

Probably the least animated anyone will get about a lineup this season, given the low stakes for this game. Just for personal interest, let's have some fun before the summer.

A change to a 4-2-2-2, some players getting their farewells, and hopefully some exciting attacking play and goals, something Thursday's draw with Leicester severely lacked. Predicted Chelsea Lineup: (4-2-2-2) Arrizabalaga, James, Chalobah, Rudiger, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Vale, Mount, Havertz, Lukaku

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