It’s the final match of the season at Stamford Bridge, and Chelsea welcome Huddersfield to London for a match that has massive importance to both teams.
After the results of the weekend and the result of the match between Swansea and Southampton on Tuesday night, both teams have everything to play for on Wednesday night.
Huddersfield earned a shock result on Sunday when they spoiled Manchester City’s title celebrations by coming away with a scoreless draw. Given that Huddersfield’s final three fixtures were away to Manchester City, away to Chelsea, and at home to Arsenal, there was every possibility that Huddersfield could have gained no points from those three fixtures.
As it stands, Huddersfield come to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday needing just a single point from their last two matches in order to ensure their Premier League status for next season.
For Chelsea, Wednesday night’s result also may have implications for next season. After a 1-0 win on Sunday against Liverpool, the Blues find themselves just three points behind third place Liverpool and two points behind fourth place Tottenham.
Finishing in the top four seemed like an impossible task a month ago, but a win for Chelsea against Huddersfield would put them level with Liverpool going into the final match of the season and could be level or ahead of Tottenham, depending on Spurs’ result in their match against Newcastle on Wednesday night.
Suffice it to say, Chelsea understand that a win in the only result that helps their quest to finish in the top four, and Huddersfield know that a point will be just enough.
It makes for an interesting match, particularly because it’s hard to tell what tactic Huddersfield will employ. Manager David Wagner all season has had two ways of playing – either a modified version of the high-pressing system that he learned during his time at Borussia Dortmund, or a system where they sit deeper and try and stay solid by crowding space in their own half.
In their first match, Huddersfield sat back and applied pressure only in their own half, and Chelsea simply dominated the ball and opened them up at will. Wagner might elect to change his system in an attempt to keep that from happening away from home.
Whether that means he’ll employ a pressing system similar to the one that he used to stifle Manchester City on Sunday, that remains to be seen. But it’s something that will give Chelsea manager Antonio Conte something to consider.
For Chelsea, the 3-5-2 was brought back against Liverpool, and despite scoring just the one goal, Chelsea looked like a far more balanced unit.
Key to that has been the influence of Olivier Giroud as a true target man, which allows Eden Hazard the ability to play off of him and roam about the pitch without losing any solidity in midfield.
It’s likely the formation that Chelsea will play in the FA Cup Final against Manchester United, but on Wednesday night, Conte may elect to change things around in order to not only rotate, but to perhaps to play either Willian or Pedro in an attempt to add creativity against a team that may be trying to just play for the point.
It’s going to be a fascinating pre-match tactical battle because both sides know they need a specific result, but both teams are capable in playing in a couple different ways. It’ll be up to each manager to decide how to set up his team, and everyone can remain in suspense until the lineups are announced tomorrow.