It’s Chelsea’s last league game of the 2016-2017 season and this is my first article for the site. I guess you could say I’m the Michy Batshuayi of the CFCnet cast; making my full ‘A-game’ debut in the final throws of the season.
Before concentrating on this weekend’s upcoming game it’s worth noting a few events in Chelsea’s history which celebrated their respective anniversaries this week; five years since our Champions League triumph, seven since our FA Cup trophy vs. Portsmouth, ten since our FA Cup final victory over Manchester United (the first at the ‘new’ Wembley) and twenty since our FA Cup win vs. Middlesbrough …
This weekend Chelsea play their final league game of the season against the already relegated Sunderland. They’ll be welcomed to the pitch with a guard of honour as Champions and with the luxury of nothing to play for, in the league at least.
Ahead of the game Conte’s expected mantra will be to focus the players’ minds on continuing to take one game at a time rather than looking too far ahead to next week’s FA Cup final.
So what do we have to look forward to this Sunday?
The focus will be on lifting the trophy, on John Terry’s farewell and on whether Chelsea break another record (most premier league games won in a season). Of course there will also be a collective ‘good luck’ message from the fans to the squad for the upcoming FA Cup final in which the club could secure its second ‘double’ in a decade.
However, much like Monday’s game vs. Watford there will also likely be the opportunity to view Chelsea’s ‘shadow side’ – players who have featured sporadically for the club this season. It was encouraging to see the depth and quality of the squad on Monday. To compete with established opposition with the side we fielded was reassuring. That’s not say it doesn’t need strengthening (it clearly does) but it’s good to see that there is more depth than many believe.
Sunderland are in a less than fortunate position going into the game- bottom of the league, relegated long ago and destined for a tour of the Championship. It’s a shame for the North East that its football is at a low ebb with both Sunderland and Middlesbrough suffering relegation. Sunday’s opposition are in dismal form having taken just ten points since the turn of the year. Sunderland were outplayed at The Emirates earlier this week so many expect Chelsea to win comfortably regardless of the side they field. That being said, Sunderland have nothing to lose and may attack more than opposition at Stamford Bridge usually would. Therefore, like Monday’s game, we may witness a few goals from both sides.
To most Chelsea fans the result is, of course, irrelevant as the main prize has been won. They just want to see the trophy lifted and have one eye on next weekend’s FA Cup final.
Ultimately Sunday presents an opportunity for Chelsea fans to celebrate a wonderful season by a team that has bonded with itself, its manager and its fans brilliantly.
C’mon you blues.
Contribution by Steve Greenwood