London (AFP) – Scorer of the goal that won Chelsea the title, Michy Batshuayi will hope to make his first Premier League start for the club in Monday’s home game with Watford.
The Belgium striker came off the bench to score the decisive goal in Friday’s 1-0 win at West Bromwich Albion, which confirmed Chelsea as champions.
Batshuayi is yet to start a league game since arriving from Marseille last year, but could be given a run-out if, as expected, manager Antonio Conte elects to shuffle his pack.
“I’m delighted for Michy,” said centre-back Gary Cahill following victory at The Hawthorns. “He hasn’t played as much football as he would want, but to score the winner is great for him.
“We’ve been together as a group all season — that’s what got us to where we are.”
Chelsea’s failure to qualify for European competition this season, coupled with a remarkably good injury record, means Conte has had to make very few adjustments to his starting XI during the campaign.
Cesc Fabregas and Willian have both been in and out of the team, but Chelsea’s other reserve players have become very well acquainted with the seats in the Stamford Bridge dug-out.
Batshuayi is not alone in having had to wait for playing opportunities, with Kurt Zouma, club captain John Terry and Nathan Ake, who returned from a loan spell at Bournemouth in January, all in the same boat.
Terry, Chelsea’s emblematic skipper, will end his 22-year association with the club at the end of the season and seems certain to start at least one of their final two games.
Despite Chelsea having sealed the title, Terry will not get an opportunity to lift the trophy until after the final home game of the campaign against relegated Sunderland next Sunday.
Youth-team graduates Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah will also hope to make their first league starts of the campaign in Chelsea’s last two fixtures.
But with an FA Cup final against Arsenal awaiting on May 27, David Luiz says it is vital Chelsea do not allow themselves to take their foot off the pedal.
– ‘Go there and fight’ –
“There’s still some work to do, not just in the final. There are still two league games to go, so let’s rest a bit and prepare ourselves,” said the Brazilian centre-back.
“If I say I’m not thinking about winning the Double, I am a liar! Of course we think about this.