Chelsea’s final match, and perhaps the swan song for the manager who won the Double last season, takes place at a ground that has provided difficulty in the past, Goodison Park. On Sunday, Chelsea take on an Everton side who lost to West Bromwich Albion last week and sit seventh in the table.
When Carlo Ancelotti says that this match still has importance, despite the fact that Chelsea’s season was decided last week as United drew with Blackburn, there is an air of truth to what he says. While publicly it has been said that there doesn’t need to be an overhaul in personnel, there’s a good chance that a few of the players will be auditioning for their jobs in the final match of the season. Likewise, Ancelotti himself knows that his time at Chelsea may well come to a close as he failed to deliver a trophy this season.
On the other side, Everton will be looking to the future and David Moyes job looks to be safe as long as he wants to remain on the blue side of Stanley Park. Despite limited resources and injuries to key players that left him without a recognised striker for much of the second half of the season, Moyes has quietly brought his team comfortably to seventh, where they should finish the season. The question for Everton is how they can put together a full season of good performances as woeful form away and early cost them a shot at European football.
On the injury front, Ramires and Yossi Benayoun are absent for Chelsea with hamstring injuries and Jose Bosingwa will miss out with a knee injury. Tim Cahill is doubtful for Everton for Sunday’s match and they will also be without Marouane Fellaini and Louis Saha as both are still recovering from long term ankle injuries. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov lost his appeal against his sending off last week and will begin his three-match ban.
Importantly, this fixture has tended to be a challenging, cagey match for both sides, whether at Goodison Park or Stamford Bridge. Six of the last eight meetings between the clubs have ended in draws and Everton are unbeaten in their last five matches against the Blues.
Regardless of the outcome, both teams will have one eye towards next season with their performances. For Chelsea, it may be the last we see of the team that has largely been the same since 2007.