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3 things to watch out for

As the Premier League season approaches its thrilling finale, Chelsea are set to face Brighton in a crucial penultimate game. Currently in seventh place in the league table, Chelsea sit alongside Newcastle United, trailing only on goal difference.

With momentum in their favour, the Blues are well prepared to challenge Brighton on their home turf as they look to secure another win to strengthen their record for the season. This upcoming clash promises not only excitement, but also potentially crucial changes in the final positions in the league standings.

Here are three things to expect.

1. How does Mauricio Pochettino use players returning from injury?

Mauricio Pochettino

As Chelsea prepare to face Brighton in a crucial end-of-season fixture, they are in an unusually favorable position in terms of player availability. With just four senior players ruled out through injury, this is Chelsea’s lightest injury list in two years, presenting a unique opportunity for manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Despite the relatively healthy squad, Pochettino faces interesting decisions regarding his starting line-up. The core midfield duo of Conor Gallagher and Moises Caicedo, alongside the dynamic front quartet of Mykhailo Mudryk, Cole Palmer, Noni Madueke and Nicolas Jackson, showed promising chemistry. Changing this setup could be a risk, especially at such a critical time in the season.

However, the tactical adjustments were evident in their last game against Nottingham Forest, where Chelsea saw the return of veteran Thiago Silva in place of youngster Alfie Gilchrist, and Trevoh Chalobah deputizing as a makeshift right-back. With both Malo Gusto and captain Reece James now available, Pochettino could look to trade them.

Such a move could give both players valuable playing time without exhausting them, which is vital given the physical demands of their positions. Moreover, the introduction of either Gusto or James could significantly strengthen Chelsea’s defence, which showed vulnerabilities in the previous game, conceding twice to a relegation-threatened Forest side.

This strategic deployment and team management will be essential not only to secure a win against Brighton, but also to maintain the momentum as the season winds down. Pochettino’s choices to manage his formation and substitutions could be the key to Chelsea’s success in these final games.

2. More records are in sight for Cole Palmer

Cole Palmer

At Chelsea’s recent awards night, Cole Palmer cemented his status as an outstanding talent by being honored with both the Player of the Year and the Fans’ Player of the Year awards. His outstanding performance this season extends beyond club recognition as he is a formidable contender for the Premier League Player of the Year and Player of the Year awards.

Palmer’s impressive stats underline his pivotal role for Chelsea. With 21 goals, he is only behind the phenomenal Erling Haaland in the league scoring charts, and his 10 assists puts him just behind Ollie Watkins, making him a dual threat on the pitch. His recent accolades include being named Premier League Player of the Month and winning Goal of the Month, further highlighting his exceptional form and impact.

A former Manchester City player, Palmer’s transition to Chelsea has been nothing short of spectacular, establishing him as one of the premier talents in global football. With the European Championships on the horizon this summer, Palmer is no doubt keen to maintain his outstanding form. His continued excellence not only boosts Chelsea’s prospects but also strengthens his case for a significant role in England’s national team at the Euros.

3. Chelsea’s European ambitions

Throughout the season, Chelsea have encountered several opportunities to climb up the Premier League table and secure a place in European competition, despite experiencing a spell of inconsistent form.

Time and time again, just as a win looked set to lift them to the upper echelons of the league, critical points were dropped, preventing their ascension. However, a recent uptick in their performance, along with favorable results elsewhere, has placed them in seventh place, a position sufficient for UEFA Conference League qualification.

However, that position remains precarious due to the looming threat of Manchester United, who can jeopardize Chelsea’s position in two significant ways. First, United are just three points behind Chelsea in the league table.

More pressingly, should United triumph over their city rivals in the upcoming FA Cup final, they would secure a place in the UEFA Europa League. That result would move the sixth-placed team – currently Newcastle United, who sit just above Chelsea – into the Conference League.

Chelsea’s path to confirming their participation in European competition next season is fraught with complications and depends on several external factors. With Newcastle ahead by a substantial goal difference of 10, Chelsea’s best hope is for Manchester United or Brentford to snatch points from Newcastle in one of their final two games.

At the same time, Chelsea need to pick up wins in their remaining games to capitalize on their rivals’ potential slip-ups. Thus, the end of this Premier League season holds not only high stakes but also significant unpredictability for the Blues.