Chelsea can guarantee a spot in Champions League next season with a victory Wednesday in their Premier League match against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues are fresh off a thrilling 1-0 victory over Premier League champs Manchester United, and need to create space on the table from Arsenal and Tottenham.
Winger Gareth Bale and Spurs are seeking their first win at Stamford Bridge since 1990, and are fighting for their own Champions League spot. Spurs are fifth on the table, three points behind Chelsea and one point behind Arsenal.
Chelsea’s chance for Champions League is also mired in speculation following manager Rafa Benitez’s comments about his status next season.
Benitez not only outright said what everyone had been thinking for months, he even made a thinly veiled suggestion that former Blues and current Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho will return next season.
“The next year there will be another manager,” Benitez said before Wednesday’s match. “I think everybody knows who will be here.”
The Blues will welcome midfielder Eden Hazard’s return from a calf injury, and Oriol Romeu will also be available following a knee ailment. However, John Obi Mikel and Ryan Bertrand remain sidelined.
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas, who managed Chelsea last season, could gain some revenge on his former club, but insisted that is not on his mind.
"Obviously I spent three great years there when I was on the staff but when I was given more responsibility I wasn't given enough time,” Villas-Boas said to BBC News. "It would be excellent if we got the three points [but] at the moment it means absolutely nothing. It's just another opponent in our quest to try to get the nine points that we have to play for."
Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole
Hazard, Oscar, Mata
Ekotto, Vertonghen, Dawson, Walker
Bale, Dempsey, Lennon
Betting Odds: The Blues are a -115 favorite, with a 2.5 goal over/under.
Where to watch: The match will kick-off at 2:45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Soccer Channel in the U.S and Sky Go, Sky Sports 1 Ireland, Sky Sports 1 in the United Kingdom, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-2