While it hasn’t happened too often in recent times, there will be something important at stake in Chelsea’s final game of the 2020/21 Premier League campaign as we seek a positive result at Aston Villa this weekend to seal a top-four finish for the third year in row.
With just one point separating the third-placed Blues from Liverpool and Leicester City, there isn’t much margin for error with only a victory at Villa Park ensuring we will lock down a place in next season’s Champions League regardless of what happens elsewhere.
Chelsea fans may be feeling some nervousness ahead of the fixture but the good news is that the Blues tend to come through when facing a crucial final-day match.
2019/20 – Wolverhampton Wanderers (h)
You only have to go back 10 months to find the last time Chelsea needed a result in our closing game to ensure a top-four finish although on that occasion, a draw against Wolves would have been enough to see us finish ahead of Manchester United or Leicester, who played each other in their final match.
Everything still appeared to be up for grabs though as we approached half-time at the Bridge with the game still scoreless before a stunning free-kick by Mason Mount broke the deadlock in stoppage time.
Olivier Giroud then grabbed a second 144 seconds later as Frank Lampard’s side recorded a comfortable 2-0 win to seal our place in this season’s Champions League.
2009/10 – Wigan Athletic (h)
Chelsea were neck and neck with Manchester United in the race for the title for much of the 2009/10 season and we went into our final game against Wigan Athletic clinging on to a slender one-point advantage over the Red Devils.
A slip-up against the Latics, who had beaten us 3-1 earlier in the campaign, could have opened the door for United but our nerves were eased when Nicolas Anelka fired us into the lead after six minutes and Lampard added a second with a penalty just after the half-hour.
The early tension gave way to a party atmosphere at the Bridge after the interval as the Blues cut loose with Didier Drogba bagging a hat-trick, Anelka adding his second and Salomon Kalou and Ashley Cole also getting on the scoresheet in a record-breaking 8-0 victory which sealed our first title in four seasons.
2002/03 – Liverpool (h)
The battle for a top-four finish in 2002/03 came down to a massive final-day showdown against Liverpool at the Bridge with the fourth-placed Blues just ahead of the fifth-placed Reds on goal difference.
A draw would have been enough to secure our place in the Champions League but the visitors threatened to spoil things when Sami Hyypia put them ahead after 11 minutes.
Chelsea responded quickly though with skipper Marcel Desailly heading in Jesper Gronkjaer’s cross for the equaliser just two minutes later before the Dane struck himself with a brilliant curling effort to give us a 2-1 lead
There were big chances at both ends in the second half but with Gianfranco Zola coming on for his final appearance as a Chelsea player, we held on to our advantage to take our place among Europe’s elite the following season.