|Hollywoodbets' betting preview for Sunday's EPL clash between Chelsea and Leicester City.|
The final day of the English Premier League is upon us. Newly-crowned champions Leicester City travel to dethroned champions Chelsea in what promises to be a thrilling encounter as the Foxes look to conclude their fairy tale season in emphatic fashion. Leicester were handed the title a fortnight ago, when Eden Hazard’s late strike against Tottenham put Chelsea level at 2-2, all but ruling Spurs out of the title race. Could the Foxes repay Chelsea for their hard work and effort by taking it easy against last season’s winners? Or will Claudio Ranieri have a point to prove after he was shunned by Roman Abramovich back when he was boss from 2000-2004?
What a way to end their season. Chelsea will come up against England’s hottest side at the moment, giving the champions a much-expected envious guard of honour before kick-off. The Blues failed to continue their superb form of 2014/15, winning just 12 of their 36 games this season, with 12 draws and 12 losses – at the time of writing.
The club from Stamford Bridge have gone from Premier League elites to mid-table mediocrity, doing their best to break all kinds of unwanted records in what started out as Jose Mourinho’s worst ever season as a manager. With that being said, incoming coach Antonio Conte has a massive job on his hands to resurrect this fallen, weak and crippled club. But before fans and players can focus on next season, they must close this one with at least an ounce of pride and do all they can to break this dominant Leicester side.
The Blues will be tortured with all the title celebrations coming from the away support. However, that could benefit Chelsea in a way, inspiring the Londoners to remember the feeling of being crowned champions and spur them on as they look to make amends for their treacherous season with a victory in front of their home crowd. But as much as Guus Hiddink’s side feel that they gave away the title too cheaply, they would feel that they gave it to the right contenders, with London rivals Arsenal and Spurs unable to claim bragging rights by being crowned champions.
The only things Chelsea have to fight for now is for their manager – who will take charge of the Blues for the last time – and hoping for a top half finish, with Stoke City and Swansea on their trails. Whether Chelsea win or not, it will be a fairy tale ending for Claudio Ranieri’s men. For John Terry, though, the fairy tale may have ended after the Blues captain was given his marching orders after receiving two yellow cards against Sunderland. Whether or not that proves to be Terry’s last game for Chelsea, only time will tell.
If Chelsea are to ruin Leicester’s party, they will need their biggest party-pooper at his best – Eden Hazard. The Belgian wizard knows all about ruining great moments after he crushed Spurs’ hearts with his late strike. Hazard has been far from his very best this season, recording just three goals, and as many assists. But it was THAT goal that the world will never forget as Leicester were crowned champions.
Leicester come up against the team who gave them a huge hand in lifting their first ever top-flight league title. Although it is fair to say that Chelsea only played a small role in the fairy tale that has seen Ranieri’s side be crowned as champions.
Ranieri's side missed the chance to claim the trophy a fortnight ago when they could only draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford - but they needed to wait just over 24 hours for their title glory to be sealed. Ranieri has transformed and evolved from being the “tinkerman” and has proved to be the “thinkerman”. Believe it or not, Roman Abramovich sacked Ranieri back in 2004 after a four-year spell with Chelsea, deeming the Italian not good enough to win a league title. And here the Foxes are, hammering every team in their way – showing that they are willing to break their backs for their manager.
However, the Leicester boss is still respected by many – If not all – Chelsea fans, with a supporter of Chelsea holding up a banner that read “Let’s Do It For Ranieri” in their match against Spurs. Ranieri's men went on top of the table for the first time on November 21 following their 3-0 win over Newcastle and have not dropped out of the top three since. The champions are on the longest unbeaten run with eight wins from 11 Premier League matches, drawing the other three. As much as Ranieri has proved to be a key factor in Leicester’s triumph this season, they couldn’t have done it without the help of two of their most talismanic players – Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.
Vardy still has his eyes set on the Golden Boot award and is just one goal shy of England strike-partner Harry Kane with 24 goals to his name. Despite being ill-disciplined at times, Vardy has shown his class this season, breaking an individual goalscoring record set by Man United legend, Ruud van Nistelrooy. He and Mahrez have proved to be a formidable partnership for Leicester this season, scoring 41 goals between them. However, the PFA Player of the Year, Mahrez, has shown that he can do it on his own at times beating up to five defenders in a play. Surely the Algerian magician will be a strong candidate for African Player of the Year in 2016. The duo will need to show their quality for the final time this season as Leicester’s fairy tale season reaches a close.
Verdict: Leicester City (51/20)
Leicester are on the longest unbeaten streak in the league with eight wins from 11 matches. Chelsea just come off the back of a magnificent comeback from Sunderland, losing the game 3-2 after going a goal ahead twice in the match. My mind is going with Leicester to win and let the fairy tale go on at 51/20. But if you’re one for value, back Leicester to Win By One Goal at 17/4. Leicester to win, however. And they all lived happily ever after!