April 8, 2017

Who Can Stop Chelsea Now?  (Sky Sports)

Diego Costa and Eden HazardWith Chelsea needing just five more wins to guarantee the title, we take a closer look at their remaining fixtures…

Pressure? What pressure? If there was any suggestion Tottenham's lunchtime thrashing of Watford, which temporarily closed the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea to four points, would affect the Blues in their evening kick-off with Bournemouth they were dismissed by Antonio Conte's side running out 3-1 winners.

An Adam Smith own goal and further strikes by Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso restored Chelsea's seven-point advantage at the top of the table and time is now running out for their north London rivals to make up the difference.

With just seven games left to play, Chelsea are 15 points away from glory. Here, we take a look at the remaining obstacles in their way…

Manchester United (a) - Sunday, 16 April - live on Sky Sports

On paper, the toughest test remaining for Chelsea is a trip to Old Trafford. The Londoners have won just three times in the past 12 years away at Manchester United - but Jose Mourinho's men are currently struggling on their own patch. United are in danger of recording their lowest home points total in Premier League history and Chelsea can go there with confidence after already winning 4-0 in the league and 1-0 in an FA Cup clash at Stamford Bridge.

Southampton (h) - Tuesday, 25 April - live on Sky Sports

Chelsea's energy levels and mental focus will be put to the test by Southampton later this month, when Claude Puel's side visit Stamford Bridge just three days after the Blues' FA Cup semi-final clash with rivals Tottenham. Conte will have to ensure his side are refreshed and ready to go again regardless of whether they've booked a trip to Wembley. But again, they can look back on a win over their opponents from earlier this season for inspiration.

Everton (a) - Sunday, 30 April - live on Sky Sports

Goodison Park is never an easy place to go and Everton boss Ronald Koeman has a formidable group of attacking players to cause concern - not least former Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, who is top scorer in the Premier League. But the capital club hammered Everton 5-0 at Stamford Bridge in November and will be confident of coming out on top again at the end of April.

Middlesbrough (h) - Monday, 8 May - live on Sky Sports

Relegation-threatened Middlesbrough could be consigned to a return to the Championship by the time Chelsea host them at the start of May. But Conte's side only edged a 1-0 win at the Riverside in November and it could be another tight contest when the teams meet again. While Boro shipped four goals to Hull City last Wednesday, their 0-0 draws with Swansea and Burnley either side of that result were reminders of their ability to frustrate.

West Brom (a) - Saturday, 13 May

West Brom derailed Tottenham's hopes of overhauling Leicester City with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane in April 2016 and they could play a key role in the run-in this season, too. Chelsea needed a Diego Costa winner 14 minutes from time to take three points from the reverse fixture in December and the Blues were beaten 3-0 at the Hawthorns two years ago, in the penultimate fixture of their title-winning season.

Watford (TBC)

Chelsea and Watford are still waiting for confirmation of when their postponed fixture will take place. Given Tottenham's 4-0 thrashing of the Hornets on Saturday, Chelsea will expect to take three points from this match-up when it happens. But they did need two goals in the final 10 minutes of their clash in August to win 2-1 and Watford have shown with victories over Manchester United and Arsenal this season that they are capable of upsetting the odds.

Sunderland (h) - Sunday, 21 May

Chelsea will hope to sign off in style at Stamford Bridge against a Sunderland side currently bottom of the Premier League. The Blues beat Sunderland 3-1 on the final day of their 2014/15 title-winning campaign and there is a nice element of symmetry building two years on. Conte couldn't ask for a more favourable final fixture, should his team still need points to secure the crown. They beat Sunderland 1-0 in December.

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