Chelsea's slim hopes recede

Chelsea's slim hopes recede

 Chelsea’s slim hopes of winning the Premier League all but evaporated in the Stamford Bridge sunshine on Sunday as Norwich City ground out a 0-0 draw that left them hanging on to top-flight status by their fingernails.

Jose Mourinho’s side needed a win to keep Manchester City and Liverpool on their toes but were frustrated by a wall of yellow and missed the chance to return to the top of the table.

With one game left Chelsea’s only chance of winning the title is to beat relegated Cardiff City and hope that neither City or Liverpool take more than one point from their remaining two fixtures.

Manchester City lead the standings on goal difference from Liverpool with both on 80 points from 36 matches. Chelsea have 79 points from 37.

Defeat would have relegated Norwich along with Cardiff and Fulham but a draw means they now must beat Arsenal on the final day of the season and hope Sunderland lose their remaining two fixtures, both of which are at home.

Earlier, Arsenal strolled to a 1-0 win over West Brom whose place in the Premier League next season is now certain following Norwich's failure to win.

Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho was desperate to avoid a third successive home defeat after his 77-match unbeaten league record at Stamford Bridge ended with defeat by Sunderland last month and Atletico Madrid won 3-1 to knock them out of the Champions League.

He said he was surprised by Norwich's defensive tactics, however, believing they would attack more as they had to win to have retain a realistic chance of avoiding the drop.
“We were waiting for a kind of crazy game, especially in the second half when we thought they would gamble everything for the chance to survive but they defended much more,” Mourinho, whose side beat Liverpool last weekend, told Sky Sports.

“That is not my problem. All I have to say is that in the first half we were not good enough.”

Chelsea's only consolation was that they are now guaranteed to finish third and will not have to play a Champions League qualifier at the start of next season.

Norwich, who had lost their last eight successive away league matches, now "need a miracle" to survive, according to their defender Michael Turner. They have 33 points, two behind Sunderland (35) who are one place above the relegation zone after Saturday's 1-0 victory at Manchester United.

Arsenal, who have 76 points, will now finish fourth, ensuring them of a 17th successive tilt at the Champions League next season. Norwich's failure to win at Chelsea meant that while West Brom are effectively safe, Aston Villa and Hull City cannot be relegated.

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