Its matchday 33 in the Premier League and the league is inching closer to drawing curtains to yet another thrilling campaign with lots of surprises and footballing action. Chelsea play hosts to Brentford in a rather dull West London derby with both the teams winless in their last 5 games.
The Blues crashed out of the Champions League after a 4-0 defeat on aggregate to the holders Real Madrid which meant their chances of playing in Europe are all but finished. They sit a staggering 20 points behind 4th place and 11 points behind 7th place which is the final spot for European football. It’s been a season to forget for Chelsea and things could get worse if they don’t start putting points on the board and winning games as they are on course to having the worst season in their history if they remain in 11th place. Things could get bad to worse as there is a possibility that Lampard’s men get dragged into a relegation battle as they sit just 11 points above the relegation zone given their difficult run of games until the end of the season as they are yet to face Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Newcastle United in the remaining 7 games.
Brentford sit in 10th place 5 points above their West London opponents and haven’t won a single game this month. Thomas Frank’s side drew 1-1 to high-flying Aston Villa as they conceded a late equalizer to drop 2 points and put their European ambitions in jeopardy as they are 6 points behind Liverpool in 7th who have a game in hand. The recent slump in form has seen the Bees lose considerable ground in the battle to finish in the European spots. The game on Thursday presents them an opportunity to get back to winning ways and try to push for a place in next season’s Europa Conference League at the very least.
When and Where?
Date: 26th April, 2023.
Time: 7:45 PM.
Venue: Stamford Bridge.
Referee: Andy Madley.
Assistants: Harry Lennard, Nick Hopton.
Fourth official: Simon Hooper.
VAR: John Brooks.
Assistant VAR: Timothy Wood.
Chelsea have two fresh injury blows as Lampard confirmed that Reece James and Mason Mount both have been ruled out for the rest of the season. Kai Havertz also picked up an injury in training which makes the German unavailable for the game. Kalidou Koulibaly and Armando Broja will also miss out as they are facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Pierre Aubameyang and Noni Madueke could both be reintroduced in the squad as Lampard will want to freshen up his misfiring attack while Benoit Badiashile could also return to the starting XI to replace Thiago Silva.
Thomas Frank will be without Pontus Jansson, Kean Lewis-Potter and Kristoffer Ajer as the trio missed the last game and are long term absentees for the Bees. Christian Norgaard picked up a knock against Villa and could face a late fitness test to start in midfield while the rest of the squad could remain the same from the weekend.
Chelsea have nothing left to play for this season and it could be a blessing in disguise for the younger players as they could be given a chance to shine. Lampard has been a huge advocate of integrating younger players into the first team and could do so by giving the likes of Lewis Hall, Carney Chukwuemeka, Noni Madueke and David Datro Fofana all a start in the game against Brentford. The Blues have scored just 30 goals in the league this season in 32 games which is the 5th least in the division a stat which highlights their struggles in front of goal this season. A freshened up attack could do the trick as they have scored just 1 goal in their last 4 games and will need a spark of magic to break the duck. Creating chances isn’t the problem for the Blues but converting them has been the major issue this season which needs to be addressed if they are to return to winning ways.
Brentford still have a glimmer of hope to qualify for the Conference League and will have to go all out to achieve it. Their winless run could come to an end against the Blues whom they defeated away from home 4-1 last season which saw the Bees run riot at the Bridge. With their opponents going through a rough patch, another similar performance cannot be ruled out though they will have to be on top of their game. They have won just 3 of their 16 away games in the league this season and will need a spirited performance to pick another win on the road and cement a place in the top half of the table which will be their best ever finish in the league.
The English marksman was on the scoresheet at the weekend yet again taking his goal scoring tally to a staggering 19 goals which is the 3rd highest in the division. He will be up against a leaky Chelsea defence which has conceded 6 goals in their last 3 games in all competitions which could be the perfect opportunity to increase his goal tally and help his side come away with a win in the West London derby.
Chelsea lineup vs Brentford: Mendy, Chilwell, Badiashile, Fofana, Azpilicueta, Enzo, Kovacic, Mudryk, Chukwuemeka, Madueke, Aubameyang.
Brentford lineup vs Chelsea: Raya, Henry, Mee, Pinnock, Hickey, Janelt , Da Silva, Jensen, Mbuemo, Toney, Damsgaard.