Chelsea will be looking to keep their hopes for a top-four finish alive on Sunday afternoon when they welcome Liverpool to Stamford Bridge.
Four wins on the bounce in all competitions have helped restore the confidence back into Antonio Conte’s side following a number of poor results at the start of April.
Now, they face a Liverpool team that recently booked their place in the Champions League final after they beat Roma 7-6 on aggregate in midweek. The Reds, who currently sit in third place, could see their lead cut short to three points if they lose at the weekend which will bring them back into the top-four race.
Ahead of the mouth-watering tie in the capital. Here are the five things to watch out for at the Bridge:
#1 Tottenham result
Prior to kick off on Sunday, Chelsea will already know the result of Tottenham’s trip to rock-bottom West Brom, which takes place on Saturday afternoon. Fourth-placed Spurs currently hold a five-point lead on their London neighbours and dropped points will keep the Spurs faithful worried. This would also give a boost to Chelsea who could make things very interesting going into the final games of the season.
#2 Defensive performance
One major problem for Conte this season has been the defensive fragilities at the back, particularly, with the absence of David Luiz. However, in recent weeks they have shown signs of improvement by securing back-to-back clean sheets. Gary Cahill, who has played a bit-part role during this campaign, has returned to the starting XI in recent weeks and his experience will be needed at the weekend. Keeping clean sheets against the likes of Swansea and Southampton is one thing, but doing that against the Champions League finalists is another.
#3 Hazard & Giroud threat
Three points is an absolute must for Chelsea, else they should wave goodbye to Champions League football for next season. If they are to beat Liverpool then Olivier Giroud and Eden Hazard need to replicate their performances from recent weeks. Hazard has arguably been Chelsea’s best player without actually getting on the scoresheet. By contrast, Giroud’s ability to hold up the ball and bring others into play has helped the Chelsea team perform much better in the final third.
#4 Best trio in the world
Mane, Firmino, and Salah. The Liverpool attackers are arguably the best performing front three in the world right now. The trio recently helped Liverpool book a place in the Champions League final where they will play holders Real Madrid. But for now, their attention will be on Stamford Bridge and ending Chelsea’s top-four hopes. Stopping either player having a say in the game will be a tough task and the home side will have to show some of their form from last season if they are to succeed at the weekend.
#5 Tiredness after Italy trip
Jurgen Klopp’s teams like to press from the front, counter attack with speed and play with a high tempo. However, it will not be a surprise to see the Reds tire later on in the game following their game in Italy on Wednesday night. If Chelsea can keep the visitors quiet for the first hour of the game then things could play into their hands as the game enters its latter stages.