Chelsea’s fate in European football next season will be decided after their match against Newcastle United on Sunday.
It is confirmed that they will compete in either the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Europa League next season, although it is more than likely that they will have to settle for Thursday night football.
The Blues’ defence of the English Premier League title has not been a successful one this season; Antonio Conte’s side are currently in fifth position and are hoping for a miracle to steal fourth position from Liverpool’s grasp.
For Chelsea to play UEFA Champions League football next season, not only do they have beat The Magpies at St James’ Park, but they must also hope that Brighton and Hove Albion are able to defeat Liverpool at Anfield. Any other set of circumstances will not be enough for The Blues to play in the competition that they won for the first and to date, only time six years ago.
In The Blues’ way are a Newcastle United side managed by former Chelsea gaffer, Rafael Benítez.
During the Spaniard’s time in South West London, he guided Chelsea to a UEFA Europa League title in 2013.
Benítez became the club’s interim manager in November 2012 until the end of the 2012/2013 campaign; during which, the 58-year-old was defeated in just 10 of his 48 matches in charge of The Blues. Chelsea fans will be hoping that their former manager won’t prove to haunt them, as they are in desperate need of three points on Tyneside.
Newcastle United have been struggling for form in recent weeks, having lost in all of their last four matches.
Although Chelsea’s four-match winning streak came to an end against Huddersfield Town, they are currently on one of their best runs of the season and I can whole-heartedly say that The Blues should depart the north east with three points on Sunday evening.
Score Prediction: Newcastle United 1-2 Chelsea
By Jonty Colman