Chelsea: Looking forward to what the rest of the season has in store

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Tammy Abraham of Chelsea celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on December 04, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Tammy Abraham of Chelsea celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on December 04, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images) /

With nine matches left to play, winning is crucial for Chelsea if the Blues want to secure a top four spot.

Teams like Manchester United, Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers all are hot on Chelsea’s tail for a Champions League spot, so each of the next nine matches must be taken seriously. Chelsea still has to defend their Champions League qualification spot, unlike Manchester City and Liverpool who have separated themselves.

As well as the season’s been going, there is no time to slack off for the Blues. If the right mindset and intensity are kept, there should be no problem in finishing in the top four of the Premier League. If the men in blue play well enough across all nine matches, then there is a chance they can slide up and surpass Leicester City for third place, but a Champions League place is crucial. The Blues have nine matches left in the league, but who are their opponents?

Aston Villa (away)

This match should be an interesting one given it is the first match post-quarantine break. The first time around, Chelsea was able to pull out a 2-1 victory behind goals from Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham.

With a near fully healthy squad, Frank Lampard and the team should be able to get the victory in the away fixture. It has not been confirmed whether N’Golo Kanté will play the rest of the season or not, but if he decides to not play, expect Billy Gilmour to take his position. The 18-year-old will be looking to continue his great form after he won back to back the Man of the Match awards in Chelsea’s last two matches. Best case scenario is the Blues come back from the halt strong, grabbing all three points from the fixture.

Manchester City (home)

Chelsea should look to take advantage of Manchester City deflated personalities this season after losing the title by such a large margin. Per usual, this match should be an interesting one for both teams. Now the FA has allowed five substitutes per match, the Blues can take full advantage and keep a fresh attack.

Last time around, the men from Stamford Bridge lost 2-1, but battled Pep Guardiola’s squad until the end. As long as Chelsea can keep its defense intact, the Blues should have no problem preventing goals. They have played Manchester City enough in recent years to understand how they play. Kevin De Bruyne must be contained for a victory in this match, but it is possible for the Blues to grab all three points.

West Ham (away)

It is Declan Rice versus his buddies and old club. Chelsea needs to make sure West Ham do not get the double on them. The Blues already lost 1-0 back in November, their annual struggle versus their lesser London neighbor. They will be looking to bounce back from the embarrassing loss in the return fixture.

Right before the break, Chelsea was in top form having beaten Liverpool 2-0 in the FA Cup and Everton 4-0 in the league. These are the types of matches the Blues should pay extra attention to because it is an easy three points most of the time. If Chelsea wants to finish top four, games like these make or break the club’s odds.

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Watford (home)

Even though Chelsea won 2-1 against Watford back in November, the Blues still gave up a goal to one of the Premier League’s worst sides. The game became a nail-biter in the last few minutes when really, the Blues should’ve put Watford away comfortably. When a top four club plays the bottom of the table team, it is generally supposed to be a clean sheet.

In this match, Chelsea should be able to attack well from the outside to set up Tammy Abraham. This potentially could be the match where Ruben Loftus-Cheek makes his first start in over a year. Frank Lampard is looking for Loftus-Cheek to return at some point, Watford could be the full return of the midfielder. If the Blues play to their strengths, this match should be a no-brainer.

Crystal Palace (away)

Last time around, the Blues got a 2-0 win back in November. Crystal Palace doesn’t have the best defense, so it should be an easy win for Chelsea.

This is also a good opportunity to scout Wilfred Zaha, who has been a target for years. With Zaha in the opposition, he will be a good test to Chelsea’s defense as he is a very skilled player. This match could also be a test for the Blues’ left backs. With the transfer window nearing, Chelsea needs to make a decision on whether buying a new left back is really necessary. The fixture is important, but player evaluations in this match are also crucial.

Sheffield United (away)

By this time, the Blues should have already clinched their spot in the Champions League. If not, this match is a must win as Sheffield United is only five points back of Chelsea right now. The only real individual threat at Sheffield is its goalkeeper, Dean Henderson. Henderson has the second most clean sheets in the Premier League behind a rock solid defense.

The Blues need to be able to set up good and easy opportunities for Tammy Abraham and Oliver Giroud to finish. But, this match is far more important to Sheffield than it is to Chelsea. The Blades will be playing with a sense of urgency, so the Blues defense must take extra caution, but also look to exploit any cracks.

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Norwich City (home)

Norwich City will be hoping to escape relegation and will try to salvage any points it can get. Chelsea barely won back in August as the 3-2 match gave Lampard his first Chelsea win.

Teemu Pukki is the only player who Chelsea needs to worry about. The defense needs to do its best in locking down the Norwich maestro. With the season nearing its end, this match won’t mean much to Chelsea aside from the opportunity for some easy points. Expect a high scoring fixture, similar to how Chelsea thrashed Everton right before the Premier League was put on hold.

Liverpool (away)

It is going to be extremely tough to play at Anfield. By this time, Liverpool will have already won the league and Chelsea will have likely secured a spot in the Champions League for the following season.

With this match not holding much meaning, expect both sides to play many of their youngsters. Players like Billy Gilmour, Tino Anjorin, Fikayo Tomori and Ruben Loftus-Cheek could all be in the starting XI. Even though this match doesn’t mean much, it will showcase the future of the Premier League.

Wolves (home)

With Wolves hoping to secure a chance to be in European Competition, this match may or may not decide their fate. Whatever the condition may be, Chelsea will definitely be looking to end the season on a positive note. Many youngsters could also be included in the first team once again, especially with the new substitute rule. Regardless, expect an offensive onslaught from both sides.

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Chelsea doesn’t have the easiest schedule, but it’s certainly manageable. It is expected the Blues will secure a Champions League spot, so Lampard needs all hands on deck from the squad. The Blues need to close out the season strong, so these nine matches will determine a lot, seeing as the UCL is usually a dealbreaker for potential transfers.