Guus Hiddink will say goodbye to Chelsea for the second time on Sunday as their dismal season finally comes to an end, but it is his opposite number Claudio Ranieri who will receive much of the adulation as he brings his title-winning Leicester City side to Stamford Bridge.
After dominating their rivals last season, the defence of their crown has been an unmitigated disaster for Chelsea, who threatened to descend into crisis before Hiddink arrived and lifted them to a mid-table position without ever really getting the best out of an underperforming squad.
The Dutchman will make way for the highly regarded Antonio Conte, who will surely have cast his gaze on the team he is set to inherit and perhaps already some decisions over who stays and who goes. There certainly needs to be more strength in depth, as well as a stronger mentality among the playing staff.
One noticeable aspect of their recent performances is that Eden Hazard looks back to his best, scoring a brilliant solo goal at Liverpool on Wednesday to add to his stunning strike against Tottenham that clinched the title for Leicester. With Euro 2016 on the horizon it is the Belgian national team that is set to reap the benefits, but it is great for those neutrals who may have forgotten just how good a player he can be.
During his tenure at Chelsea between 2000 and 2004, Ranieri was always a popular and well respected figure, but his stock has risen in West London as a result of masterminding the most unlikely title triumph. It will be another emotional day for the Italian, who got his hands on the Premier League trophy last weekend.
It was an amazing sight to see him and his group of players celebrating on the pitch in front of their adoring supporters, and when they might have been forgiven for allowing their playing standards to slip they produced an authoritative performance to see off the albeit meek challenge of Everton.
Andy King is not part of the first-choice starting XI, but he is now officially Mr. Leicester City after winning the title in each of English football’s top three divisions. He marked the occasion with a goal, as did Jamie Vardy on his return from suspension – and the striker should have bagged himself a hat-trick after blazing a second half penalty over. One wonders how the Foxes will fare next term.
Thibaut Courtois should feature for Chelsea after recovering from illness, but Diego Costa, John Terry, Loic Remy and Kurt Zouma remain unavailable.
Robert Huth is still suspended for Leicester, but Daniel Drinkwater could be back in the starting line-up after completing his own ban.
Last Meeting: Leicester were adventurous, but they could not stop Chelsea from picking up three points in their opening home match of last season as two second half goals saw them to victory. Diego Costa got the first as he fired in from close range before Eden Hazard’s effort sealed it, with the visitors’ best chance coming when David Nugent failed to convert a one-on-one chance.
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