For the last time this season, club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton lend us their expertise to look ahead to our final game of 2021/22, against Watford at Stamford Bridge...

This rollercoaster season trundles to its conclusion on Sunday afternoon with Chelsea assured of third and the bragging rights in London for the fourth year in a row. Relegated Watford, the team on the penultimate rung of the Premier League ladder, are the visitors for the Blues’ 63rd outing of the campaign. It comes 284 days after the first – our UEFA Super Cup success against Villarreal.

For the first time since 2015/16 the Blues’ final action of the campaign will take place in the league rather than a domestic or European cup final. The Londoners are unbeaten in the past 11 final-day fixtures played at Stamford Bridge, winning eight and drawing three.

This is Watford’s first trip to the Fulham Road since the Covid-stricken 2019/20 season, when they were beaten 3-0 at the empty Bridge and dropped to the Championship a few weeks later. They are the first already-doomed side to play at Chelsea since that July 2020 meeting and are winless in eight.

The Hornets’ coach, Roy Hodgson, has left empty-handed after each of his past seven visits to Chelsea. At 74 years, nine months and 13 days the former England boss on Sunday will be the oldest-ever Premier League manager.

The Blues are hoping to seal an eighth league ‘double’ of the season, having won 2-1 at Vicarage Road in early December – the last time the Londoners topped the table.

Chelsea team news

Despite having ‘a lot of fun’ Thomas Tuchel has described this season as the most challenging of his managerial career, as sanctions, Covid and injuries knocked for six the regular rhythm of a campaign.Thursday’s draw against Leicester brought the now-familiar refrain of too many chances missed and easy goals conceded, though a point was salvaged with Marcos Alonso's fifth notch of the campaign – the Spaniard’s best return since 2017/18. The neat set-up was Reece James’s ninth assist on all fronts, and the wing-back again showed his versatility when deployed as a central midfielder later on.

The Blues have gone all season without conceding in the first 15 minutes away from the Bridge, and up to now the same applies on our own ground from 30 minutes in up to the half-time whistle.

Form at home has been the key problem for the Blues this season (averaging 1.72 points per game). Had the tally on the road (2.11 points per game) been duplicated at Stamford Bridge, however, it would still not have been enough to trouble the top two.

Romelu Lukaku could keep his starting place despite fit-again Kai Havertz’s cameo against Leicester, but top goal-contributor Mason Mount, rested during the week, may return. If Tuchel retains other Thursday starters it will mean a last appearance for Toni Rudiger.

Goal involvement in all competitions in 2021/22

Hodgson’s choice

Roy Hodgson will leave the Vicarage Road hot seat after this game to be replaced by former Forest Green Rovers boss Rob Edwards. Hodgson is Watford’s third coach of the season following the sackings of Xisco Munoz and Claudio Ranieri, but has the lowest points-per-game ratio of the trio with 0.52, and his final home game finished 5-1 to Leicester.

Injuries have stung the Hornets and there are signs of recovery this weekend with the possible return of middleman Tom Cleverley, full-back Kiko Femenia, attacking midfielders Cucho Hernandez and Ismaila Sarr, striker Josh King, and Hassane Kamara. It may be indicative of the club’s season that the solid left-back was crowned player of the season despite arriving from Nice in January.

Other players remain ruled out or doubtful, including central defender Nicolas Nkoulou, middlemen Emmanuel Dennis (their leading goalscorer), Juraj Kucka and Imran Louza.Ranieri preferred Daniel Bachmann in goal but Hodgson has opted for the experience of Ben Foster who, like his coach, is departing this summer. Upfront, Swedish winger Ken Sema has come into the frame in recent matches and in Josh King’s absence Joao Pedro will probably lead the line.

A curiosity of Watford’s season is that seven of their nine second-half goals on the road came in the last quarter-hour, while almost two-thirds of their goals conceded away from home arrived before half-time.

Hornets at the Bridge

Chelsea are unbeaten in seven home Premier League games against Watford, winning six of those and scoring at least twice on each occasion. Only one current Premier League club must look further back than Watford for their most recent top-tier victory at Stamford Bridge: recent visitors Wolverhampton, who last took all the points on 24 March 1979. The Hornets’ tasted success on the last game of the First Division season in May 1986.

Chelsea’s longest unbeaten run in the top flight at the Bridge stretches back to March 1964 and is against neighbours Fulham, who will be back in the Premier League next season.

The last hurrah

Chelsea have won the concluding league game of the season in six of the past 10 campaigns, recording two draws and two losses in that time. We are also the Premier League’s second-highest goalscorers in final fixtures with 57 (Arsenal have scored 64).

Memorable recent last-day fixtures for the Blues include the record 8-0 thrashing of Wigan that sealed the title in 2010, and the 2003 defeat of Liverpool at the Bridge that secured Champions League football prior to Roman Abramovich’s summer arrival.

Three and easy

The draw with Leicester all but confirmed third place for Chelsea given our goal difference – only the ninth time we have finished in that position in the top division. The Blues have 71 points but could finish with 74, our best total since the title-winning 2016/17 campaign.

Premier League points comparison after 37 games

Downs and ups

Watford and Norwich have both gone straight back down after promotion a year ago. Sunday’s visitors have now been through four spells in the top flight since 1992/93, the longest lasting five seasons, while the Norfolk side have had six stays, none of which has endured beyond a third season. The longest-surviving promoted club is currently Manchester City, elevated in 2002 and ever-present since.The two already-promoted clubs, Fulham and Bournemouth, will both return after just one campaign below. Up to now the Whites’ best spell lasted 13 seasons, while Bournemouth, back for the first time, enjoyed five Premier League seasons in their only previous stay.

Thomas Tuchel has said he will run the rule over our talents returning from loan this summer, but two will be gunning for glory in the play-offs next weekend. Levi Colwill and Tino Anjorin could help restore Huddersfield’s Premier League, lost in 2019.

Awards on the pitch

The UK government’s licence terms ruled out the usual Player of the Season awards event, but supporters attending Sunday’s match can see the presentations pitch-side at Stamford Bridge from 3.30pm. The prizes will go to this season’s best men’s, women’s and Academy players.

The Chelsea Museum will also be open 11am-3pm for a selfie opportunity with the freshly inscribed Women’s Super League and Women’s FA Cup trophies.

Sunday’s Premier League fixtures (all kick off at 4pm)Arsenal v EvertonBrentford v LeedsBrighton v West HamBurnley v NewcastleChelsea v WatfordCrystal Palace v Man UtdLeicester v SouthamptonLiverpool v Wolves (Sky Sports)Man City v Aston Villa (Sky Sports)Norwich v Tottenham