The finals follow one another quickly for Chelsea.
Whether it’s real finals, like Saturday’s FA Cup loss to Leicester and next weekend’s Champions League centerpiece against Manchester City, or the must-see league matches in the top-four race , there is huge importance on every 90 minutes that the team is currently playing.
Their last eight matches were: London Derby, Champions League semi-final, London derby, Champions League semi-final, Manchester City away, London derby, FA Cup final , crucial clash between the first four.
The last on this list, the potentially crucial 2-1 win over Leicester in front of 10,000 returning home fans at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, set up a final day ‘final’ at Aston Villa. Win and Chelsea will be guaranteed third place and a Champions League spot for next season.
The FA Cup final defeat hurt, but a top four finish would underline the impressive improvement in form under new boss Thomas Tuchel, who came with Chelsea ninth in the table.
With the Champions League final – and the historic opportunity that presents itself – only days away, Chelsea players arrive on Sunday. Another final.
“Every game we play is like a final,” Kai Havertz told Sky Sports in an exclusive interview. “We will come into this game as a final and we will give everything.
“[The Premier League win over Leicester] that’s what we wanted. It was a very important game for us to win. We showed great team spirit, a great game on the pitch and it was nice to meet the supporters. The atmosphere was very good. But the job is not 100% finished. We have to go back there on Sunday.
“After Sunday we can fully focus on the Champions League final, but for now, in every player’s mind, there is only Sunday’s game.”
Havertz couldn’t help Chelsea win over Leicester due to a hamstring issue but, speaking to us after a Friday morning training session, he’s confident he’ll be back in action at Villa Park.
“I feel good, I was lucky it was just a small injury,” he said, before explaining why a top-four ranking is so important for the modern player.
“For us, that’s the most important thing,” he says. “You come here to Chelsea of course to win trophies, but we knew the first half of the season wasn’t the best and now we’re in a place where we need to get into the top four.
“The title is gone for the season and we want to play in the Champions League next year, that’s 100% sure. Every player has the quality to play in the Champions League. We will do our best and I hope that we will end up there and then play. year in the Champions League. “
The relentless string of high-pressure games appear to have formed a strong bond of solidarity between Chelsea players. With maturity beyond his 21 years, Havertz, discussing frustrations with his own form this season, said: “Right now the most important thing is to finish well. You have to put your ego aside and give your best. from yourself for the team. “
This attitude will appeal to boss Tuchel but, such is Havertz’s talent, he will also be eager to see his player back in shape for the final two ‘finals’ and come back to his best on a more consistent basis next season.
Reflecting on his first England campaign, Havertz said coronavirus restrictions and the pandemic’s ripple effect on a crowded fixtures schedule made it difficult for him to start life at Chelsea.
However, with the support of his friend, his German team-mate, and his summer mate Timo Werner, Havertz believes he has been able to overcome these challenges and start to find his feet in the Premier League.
“To be honest, it’s very difficult. It’s a big change,” says Havertz. “It’s very difficult because you play every third day and the intensity here is much higher than in Germany, to be honest.
“Of course it’s a big change for us, but for me it always felt good to have Timo next to me because we can talk to each other. We were both in very difficult situations. has been unlucky this season as well, but I think now for two or three months we are both playing really well and hopefully we can continue like this.
It’s a big change for us, but for me it always feels good to have Timo next to me because we can talk to each other. We were both in very difficult situations.
“When you come to London you want to live the life here, but the last few months it wasn’t possible. You always had to stay at home and things like that, so we didn’t experience much of the city. Only football, but I hope that next season that will change a little and that we can live a little more.
“I know it was a tough season for me, not the best for me. But I knew that before I came it would take several months to adjust to this league, to the country, and since [the last] two or three months, I feel very confident. I play well, I score goals, I help goals and that’s what I want to do.
“Of course it wasn’t the best season, but I’m still looking forward step by step and trying to do my best to help the team. I know I can do a lot better, and I hope I will do better next season. “
Havertz’s adaptation to England’s top flight may not have been helped by his use in various positions during the first half of the season. In total, Havertz has played up to 11 different roles for Chelsea in 2020/21.
However, in a new, unknown position, chosen for him by Tuchel, he was able to show a glimpse of his exciting abilities.
“I would call it maybe a false nine,” he said, describing his central attacking role in Chelsea’s 3-4-2-1.
“I’m not the big player in the middle like some forwards. I play a bit differently. That’s why it’s good that we have a lot of quality players in front of me, and it’s always easy to play with them.
“For me it’s a good position and I like it. I feel very comfortable there.
“I always like to go into space and bring the ball there and I like to play in front of goal, that’s also great for me, so overall I think I like the position and that suits me.”
His team-mate Mateo Kovacic described Havertz as “the future of the club” and this false role of the nine, and how the players fit around him could be the key role model for Chelsea, Tuchel and Havertz going forward.
But long term plans must be put aside at this time. As Havertz says, right now the focus is on their next final at Villa Park.
Pitch to Post Preview – Premier League final day run for European football evaluated
In the final Pitch to Post Preview Podcast of the Premier League season, we look to the final day and debate which teams will come out on top in European football.
The three-way battle for two first places and Champions League football between Chelsea, Liverpool and Leicester, at Western ham, Tottenham and Everton vying for a place in the Europa League, and Arsenal chances of a Europa League appearance, Sky Sports’ Nick wright and Oli Yew rejoin Peter Smith to evaluate the different permutations – and make their predictions!
The panel is also reflecting on another Premier League title win for Pep Guardiola. Manchester city as they prepare to lift the trophy in front of their own fans on Sunday.
Listen to the Sky Sports Pitch to post a podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox