Chelsea know that a win against Aston Villa at Villa Park this afternoon will guarantee them a top-four finish and a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League.
The Blues moved one step closer to wrapping up a top-four berth on Tuesday evening with a crucial 2-1 victory over top-four rivals Leicester City at Stamford Bridge, as second half goals from Antonio Rudiger and Jorginho got the job done for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
Victory for the Blues lifted them back up into third, meaning they moved one point ahead of Leicester in the table in the process. The following evening Liverpool replaced Leicester in the top-four on goal difference with a 3-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor.
That means that Chelsea will enter the final round of matches in the box seat, one point ahead of their closest rivals. Therefore, the task for Chelsea is simple: win and third place will be theirs.
However, any slip-ups against Dean Smith’s side could see them drop out of the top-four if results go in Liverpool’s and Leicester’s favour.
With so much riding on it, Tuchel will be hoping to name the strongest team possible available to him, even though he would have most probably preferred to have rotated his pack ahead of next Saturday’s Champions League final against Manchester City.
But who could miss out through injury at Villa Park?
Here, football.london has taken a close look at the very latest Blues injury news and who could face missing out on the final day of the campaign.
Having missed the last three games with a hamstring injury he picked up in the 2-1 win over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium a fortnight ago, Danish centre-back Christensen is poised to make a return to the squad at Villa Park.
The centre-back, who has seen his Chelsea career revitalised by Tuchel, was originally poised to return for last Saturday’s FA Cup final defeat to Leicester and then the league fixture on Tuesday evening with the Foxes.
However, he was not deemed fit enough to be involved for the Leicester double-header.
Now, though, the Danish international is poised to return, with Tuchel confirming on Friday in his pre-match press conference that he is back available for selection.
Tuchel explained: “Andreas Christensen will be in the squad. He did full training today and yesterday without any problems.
“So he will be back.”
Whether he will slot straight into the back-three or take up residency amongst the substitutes remains to be seen.
Forced off in the first half on Tuesday evening to avoid making his minor hamstring complaint worse, Kante now finds himself in a difficult position ahead of the clash with Aston Villa.
The midfielder has been declared touch-and-go by Tuchel, with the German unable to provide a definitive answer as to whether or not he will be involved at Villa Park.
“With NG [Kante] it’s going to be very close but there are some hopes he joins team training tomorrow,” Tuchel said on Friday.
“If not, he’ll join on Monday.”
Should Kante miss out, it is almost certain he will be replaced by Mateo Kovacic in the centre of the park.
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Like Christensen, Havertz also missed out on Tuesday evening, also via a hamstring injury.
The Germany international, who has shown signs of improvement in the last couple of months, picked up the complaint in the latter stages of the FA Cup final.
After admitting in the aftermath of Tuesday night’s game that he was hopeful that the former Bayer Leverkusen man would be back available for the Villa game, Tuchel has now insisted that he is in a similar situation to Kante and that a late check is likely to be made.
Tuchel said: “Kai did a test today and will be tested in team training tomorrow.”
When speaking to the media on Friday afternoon Tuchel did not report any other injury issues, meaning he has plenty of options available to him. Elsewhere, the likes of Marcos Alonso, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Hakim Ziyech and Olivier Giroud will be amongst those pushing for recalls.