Chelsea will look to get back to winning ways when they host Burnley at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Monday night.
The Blues are through to the semifinals of the UEFA Europa League, beating Slavia Prague 5-3 on aggregate in the quarters. They are set to face Bundesliga high-fliers Eintracht Frankfurt in the final four and have a genuine chance of winning the tournament.
Now, winning the Europa League offers a direct entry to next season’s edition of UEFA Champions League. However, Maurizio Sarri’s side will look to rely on the league format first to confirm their qualification.
Currently, the Blues are 5th in the PL table, with 66 points from 34 games. They are level on points with Arsenal in 4th but have played a game more and trail 3rd-placed Tottenham by a solitary point, who also have a game in hand.
Thus, they have a genuine chance to finish in the top four and a home game against Burnley is the perfect opportunity to pick up all 3 points after losing 2-0 to Liverpool the previous weekend.
Coming to their opponents, Burnley’s season is almost complete, with hardly anything to play for. The Clarets are out of the FA Cup and safe from relegation as well. Sean Dyche’s side are currently 14th in the PL table, 8 points clear of Cardiff in 18th place.
Thus, they are relatively safe from relegation, unless Cardiff really win most of their remaining games. In that situation, it could become tricky for Burnley as they face Manchester City, Everton and Arsenal in their remaining 3 games.
Either way, they will not be easy opponents, having won their last 3 games in a row. Dyche will set up his team to not only defend against the likes of Eden Hazard but also trouble Chelsea, especially from set-pieces.
In terms of team news, Sarri confirmed that Hazard will be fit for the game, after suffering a knock in the Europa League match against Slavia Prague on Thursday. Antonio Rudiger is set to miss out the game but is expected back for next weekend’s match against Manchester United.
Marcos Alonso is set for a late fitness test while Marco van Ginkel and Ethan Ampadu are long-term absentees.
Steven Defour is a long-term absentee for Dyche while the match comes too early for Peter Crouch and Aaron Lennon. Phil Bardsley is set for a late fitness test and could provide a boost for the Clarets.
Both the teams come into the game in good form. Chelsea have won 5 of their last 6 games across all competitions, including their last 3 home games. Burnley beat Cardiff, Bournemouth and Wolves in their previous 3 games. However, the Blues could prove to be a step up compared to those opponents.
In the reverse fixture, Chelsea won a comfortable 4-0, however, this Burnley side are a much better side and could prove to be tougher competition. In the last 6 meetings between the duo, the London side have won 3 and drawn 2 while the Clarets picked up a single win.
Finally, the visitors have only won once at Stamford Bridge in their previous 11 games, with the victory coming in their most recent visit. However, Chelsea have lost just once in their last 20 home games and are formidable at home, indicating a comfortable win for Sarri’s men.
Predicted Chelsea XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek; Hudson-Odoi, Hazard, Higuain
Predicted Burnley XI: Heaton; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Barnes, Wood