The Chelsea fans in the Transfer Tavern are not holding out too much hope for their Champions League aspirations ahead of their clash against Newcastle at St James’ Park this afternoon, but whilst qualification remains a possibility they retain a glimmer of hope.
Antonio Conte takes his side to St James’ Park this afternoon for a fixture which they simply have to win to secure their place in the Champions League next season. Following a bitterly disappointing season for the club, sealing 4th spot on the final day of the season really would feel like a huge victory, but they are relying on Brighton to do them a favour at Anfield.
With an FA Cup final date against Manchester United lined up next weekend, Conte could be tempted to rest a couple of key players ahead of the clash, but that would be a foolish decision considering the Blues still have hope of sneaking into the top-four. The likes of Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante and Willian will have to bring their a-game to St James’ Park, as Newcastle have proven they are capable of causing an upset against the top teams on their home ground this season.
Chelsea arrive on the back of a 1-1 draw against Huddersfield which served to scupper their chances, as a victory over the Terriers would have given them a fantastic opportunity of qualifying for Europe going into the final-day. The newly-promoted side’s point at Stamford Bridge ensured they would remain in the top-flight for another season, and another of the newly-promoted sides will have to emulate Huddersfield’s heroics when they face Liverpool at Anfield in order to boost Chelsea into the top-four.
With survival secured and nothing to play for, the Seagulls will have nothing to fear against Jurgen Klopp’s side and, considering Liverpool will have the Champions League final on their minds, they could cause a huge upset in the race for the top-four. All of Brighton’s players will have to bring their a-game to Merseyside to have any chance of recording an unlikely victory, but one man in particular could be the difference between the two side, namely Pascal Gross (valued at £8.1 million by Transfermarkt).
Whilst predominantly operating as an attacking midfield player, Gross has been Brighton’s most influential attacking outlet this season, which his record of 7 goals and 8 assists from 37 appearances serves to illuminate. The German midfielder is a source of creativity, a diligent worker and an excellent decision maker in the final-third, so Chelsea must hope that he can put in one final outstanding display this season and give them a huge helping hand in their bid for Champions League football later today.
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