Chelsea will be looking to wrap up a top-four spot in the Premier League when they lock horns with Aston Villa at Villa Park in their final league outing of the campaign tomorrow afternoon.
The Blues, who moved one step closer towards achieving their target with a 2-1 win over top-four rivals Leicester City on Tuesday evening, will finish third with a victory, regardless of what Leicester and Liverpool do in their respective clashes with Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace.
However, if Chelsea drop points, either by drawing or losing, they will slide out of the top-four if Leicester and Liverpool both secure maximum points, highlighting just how much pressure is on their shoulders.
For Villa, they have very little to play for as they are guaranteed to finish the campaign in 11th, as they cannot climb the table or slide down it. Thus, that could work in Chelsea’s favour.
However, Dean Smith’s side will be hoping to put on a show for their returning fans and end the season in style, as well as looking to build on Wednesday evening’s 2-1 triumph over Tottenham.
Whilst Thomas Tuchel will be stressing over the availability of both N’Golo Kante and Kai Havertz ahead of kick-off, Smith has been boosted by the news that attacking-midfielder Jack Grealish has not suffered any setbacks after making his first start since February on Wednesday evening following a lengthy spell on the sidelines through injury.
His availability is a huge boost for the home side, as they look to record their first win over Chelsea since 2014.
But whilst Grealish will be chomping at the bit to end the campaign on a high, Smith will be without right-back Matty Cash, Ross Barkley, who is on loan from Chelsea, Morgan Sanson and Trezeguet.
Cash is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury and has been forced to miss the last two matches.
“He is out for the season,” Smith said earlier this week. “He’s got a recurrence of a hamstring injury which is nowhere near as bad as the one he sustained before.”
Sanson, meanwhile, is struggling with a knee injury and will miss out. The Frenchman joined Villa in January from Marseille and has played no part in the last seven matches.
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Egyptian winger Trezeguet is also sidelined with a knee injury, but his is much more severe, resulting in him needing surgery.
On him, Smith recently said: “He’s had a significant knee injury which is normally nine months. We never like to put a time frame on injuries but that’s the average time to come back.
“Some come back earlier, some come back later.”
Smith has not reported any fresh injury concerns from the win over Tottenham, but will, of course, be without Barkley due to him being ineligible to feature.