This was a memorable week for Chelsea’s interim manager Rafa Benítez. Not only did the Blues knock out FC Basel in the semi-finals of the Europa League – setting up a final showdown with Benfica in Amsterdam – they also clinched crucial victory at Old Trafford in the league against Manchester United. While it was just the third home defeat of the season for the Red Devils, Chelsea’s win gave them a huge boost in their quest for a top four finish with Juan Mata’s late strike proving the difference.
Chelsea has endured one of the busiest schedules in Europe with the Man United game already their 65th of the season, but victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday will guarantee the Blues’ spot in next season’s Champions League and leave North London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal fighting for the last seat
The Spurs and Gunners are keeping their destiny firmly in their own hands after beating Southampton and Queens Park Rangers 1-0 respectively. Two Saints academy products, namely Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott, scored the winning goals with Spurs still two points adrift of Arsenal with a game in hand.
The Merseyside Derby finished in a goalless draw thanks largely to a disallowed goal from Everton defender Sylvain Distin. Everton sits five points clear of their cross-town rivals with only two games to go and are on course to finish above Liverpool for a second season in a row for the first time since 1937. Still, the atmosphere at Anfield was rather amicable as Red fans paid tribute to Everton for their support over Hillsborough, the Kop showing a mosaic before the game that read “THANKS” in red and blue colors.
Premier League fans will see some familiar faces back in the mix next season when Hull City and their manager Steve Bruce make a swift return to the top flight. They won the automatic promotion spot on the closing day of the Championship last weekend while Watford, Brighton, Leicester City and Crystal Palace will be embroiled in the play-offs for the last spot in next season’s Premier League.