Chelsea is hanging on to hopes of a Champions League berth, while Burnley is in the hunt for a place in the Europa League.

By 90Min
April 18, 2018

Burnley host Chelsea on Thursday in a pivotal game for both sides' European hopes. Barring an unlikely Southampton FA Cup triumph, seventh place will be enough for Europa League football next season and the Clarets hold a comfortable nine point lead over Leicester in eighth.

Chelsea's top-four hopes are all but over, lying eight points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with five games to go, after losing to Mauricio Pochettino's men at Stamford Bridge on April Fools' Day. The Blues have an FA Cup semifinal against Southampton on Sunday, which would effectively confirm Burnley's European qualification should they progress to the final.

Sean Dyche's men produced a brilliant performance on the opening day at Stamford Bridge to stun the defending champions and win 3-2, with Sam Vokes scoring twice for the visitors. Shellshocked after the defeat, it proved the catalyst for a poor early season run of form which the west Londoners never recovered from, and they will look for revenge here.


Classic Encounter

The two sides also met on the opening day of the 2014-15 season, when Jose Mourinho's men traveled to Turf Moor looking to build on their third place finish from the previous year.

Scott Arfield threatened to cause a shock, giving the newly-promoted hosts a deserved 14th minute lead, but Diego Costa replied three minutes later to open his Chelsea account on his Premier League debut and haul them level.

Four minutes later, the Blues were ahead after a scintillating move that showed why they were the favourites to win the league that season. Fellow summer signing Cesc Fabregas produced a deft first time pass to feed Andre Schurrle in the box who finished with aplomb, capping off a 25-pass move.

Branislav Ivanovic added a third soon after, converting from a Fabregas corner to give Mourinho's men a healthy lead heading into the break.

The visitors had chances to extend their lead in the second half, with Didier Drogba going close, but the score remained at 3-1 to give Chelsea an opening night victory. The Blues would go on to win the title at a canter, finishing eight points clear of Spurs in second. Burnley, however, would endure a poor season before being relegated back to the Championship at the first time of asking, finishing 19th.


Recent Form

The Clarets come into the game on a five match winning streak, building a good late season run of form which has propelled them into Europa League contention. Having beaten nearest rivals Leicester 2-1 last weekend, it would take an improbable collapse to deny Sean Dyche's men their fairytale European run next term.

Chelsea, however, are in stuttering form, as they have been for much of 2018. Having taken one point from home derbies against Tottenham and West Ham, the former champions found themselves 2-0 down with 20 minutes to play at St. Mary's last weekend, only to run out 3-2 victors courtesy of an Olivier Giroud brace off the bench.

With so few games left in the season, Antonio Conte's men are unlikely to break into the top four and will have to settle for Thursday night football next season. 


Team News

The hosts have a few absentees, with Scott Arfield, Steven Defour, Ben Mee and Robbie Brady out with injury. Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and Jonathan Walters face late fitness tests in a bid to be fit for the match.

Ethan Ampadu, Danny Drinkwater and David Luiz remain sidelined for Thursday's clash and will not feature for the visitors. Marcos Alonso has been charged with violent conduct in last weekend's win at Southampton and could be rested as a result.


Potential Burnley Lineup: Pope; Lowton, Long, Tarkowski, Ward; Lennon, Cork, Westwood, Gudmundsson; Vokes, Wood.

Potential Chelsea Lineup: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Emerson; Willian, Giroud, Hazard.


Prediction

With Burnley holding home advantage and in good form, it could prove to be a banana skin for Antonio Conte's men, with their top four hopes out of their hands.

The Italian will need to name a strong side despite a looming semi final with Southampton on Sunday, and two goal hero Olivier Giroud could cause the Clarets problems up front.

Sean Dyche's men will be confident of playing to their strengths and achieving a famous result against the deposed champions, but may find the likes of Eden Hazard and Willian too hot to handle.

Prediction: Burnley 1-2 Chelsea

You May Like

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)