Newcastle United vs Chelsea Preview: Blues cling to top four hopes on the last day of the season

Newcastle United vs Chelsea Preview: Blues cling to top four hopes on the last day of the season

Chelsea have a glimmer of hope of reaching a top four spot, but will need all the help in the world on Sunday.

Harry Harris

The final day of the 2017-18 Premier League campaign is finally upon us and it ends at St. James' Park as Chelsea face Newcastle United. Newcastle have enjoyed a fairly strong return to the Premier League under Rafa Benitez and will head into Sunday's match with safety confirmed and a chance to spoil any potential Chelsea party. 

Chelsea on the other hand, will need all the luck in the world on the final day as a win against Newcastle and a Liverpool loss to Brighton & Hove-Albion would see them secure a Champions League berth for next season. 

Team News

Newcastle: For the home side, they should be fully healthy going into the final day of the season. Kenedy will be the only player to miss out as he is ineligible to play against his parent club, Chelsea. Rafa Benitez's side will be hoping for a positive result in order to remain in the top half of the table to end the campaign, but a loss and other results going against them could see them finish as low as 15th. 

Newcastle's 1-0 defeat to Tottenham in midweek all but ruined Chelsea's hopes of a top four finish, but the hosts will be hoping to finish the job on Sunday. 

Projected XI: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett; Shelvey, Diame; Murphy, Perez, Ritchie; Gayle.

Chelsea: The visitors were held to a 1-1 draw in midweek against Huddersfield, which all but doomed their top 4 chase. While there remains a glimmer of hope on the final day, they'll have to pray for results to go their way. Thibaut Courtois will likely miss out as he did in the week due to a back problem, while Danny Drinkwater and David Luiz continue their spell on the sidelines with long-term injuries. 

Projected XI: Caballero; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Rudiger; Emerson, Bakayoko, Kante, Fabregas, Moses; Hazard, Giroud.

What to Watch For

Chelsea need a win and a Liverpool loss to earn a Champions League spot, or else they must settle for 5th place and a Europa League berth next season. Antonio Conte's side will also have one eye on their upcoming FA Cup Final, which means some key players could be rested on the final day. 

The previous meeting between the two sides saw Newcastle take a 1-0 lead, before Chelsea came roaring back through Eden Hazard's brace and Alvaro Morata. 

Eden Hazard has scored more goals against Newcastle than any other Premier League side, netting six times. Chelsea will need their talisman at his very best on Sunday if they have any chance at pipping Liverpool to 4th place. 

The form of the two teams couldn't be any more different with Chelsea winning four of their last five games, drawing once. On the other hand, Newcastle have won once in their last five outings, including four consecutive losses. 

Newcastle haven't been great at home this season as they hold the division's 13th best home record, while Chelsea have been impressive away from home and are 4th in the league based on their away record.