It’s hard to believe that on the final day of last season, a party atmosphere was being prepared at Stamford Bridge to celebrate Chelsea winning the Premier League title. Fast forward a year, and it’s only fitting that Chelsea, Premier League champions for 2014-2015, would welcome the new Premier League champions, Leicester City, to Stamford Bridge on the final match of the season.
The match itself is almost irrelevant. Leicester City received the Premier League trophy last week at the King Power Stadium after their defeat of Everton, while Chelsea’s best hope is to consolidate ninth place in the league this season, stamping their name in the history books for the worst defence of a title in Premier League history.
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri returns to Stamford Bridge, where in 2003-2004, he led Chelsea to their highest league finish to date, finishing second to an unbeaten Arsenal and taking the Blues to a Champions League semi-final.
On Sunday, he and his Leicester side will receive a guard of honour befitting the current Premier League champions, and Ranieri himself may receive a few respectful cheers for a manager that is still respected at Stamford Bridge.
For Chelsea, the match may be the time for Chelsea supporters to say goodbye to an incredibly successful era in the history of Chelsea Football Club. After the sacking of Jose Mourinho and the departures of Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, and Petr Cech over the past three seasons, the fact that John Terry’s Chelsea future is still unknown makes this feel like a goodbye of sorts.
The club announced on Friday that John Terry has been offered a one-year contract extension after Terry himself revealed back in February that this season was to be his last at Stamford Bridge.
Following the announcement, Terry confirmed via Instagram that he did receive an offer to extend his contract, and that he was taking time to consider his options, which should make the post-match lap of honour something to pay close attention to.
Not only may Terry depart, but one, two, or possibly more players may be saying goodbye to the Chelsea supporters on Sunday. With new manager Antonio Conte coming in, it’s safe to say that a few familiar faces may find themselves departing Chelsea over the summer, but it’s really not clear who those players may be. But with needing to bounce back after such a disappointing season, it’s hard to imagine that everyone in this Chelsea squad will be in the squad this August.
Regardless of all the events surrounding the match itself, the match on the pitch may be played out as a glorified friendly, especially this close to the European Championships. However, Sunday may still be an emotional day for the fans, not because of results this season, but because of congratulating a former manager for his unlikely achievement, possibly saying goodbye to a club legend, and perhaps even optimism and hope for next season, as it really does feel as though Sunday is the end of an era in the history of the club.