Eden Hazard exit fears prompting Chelsea to take drastic action

Newcastle United fans at St James' Park

Nigeria forward Victor Moses and his Chelsea teammates will on Sunday hope to upset fourth-placed Liverpool for a place in next season's UEFA Champions League as they tackle Newcastle in one of the last matches of the English Premier League season.

The strained relationship between club and manager has clearly affected results on the pitch as the loss to Newcastle is one of a number of embarrassing results for the club this season. In his first season Chelsea were not playing Champions League football and a small talented squad would suffice.

Manager Antonio Conte has already warned Chelsea they "don't have a chance" of beating Manchester United at Wembley on Saturday, in what is expected be his last game as manager, if there is not a big improvement.

If nothing else, this game was meant to be a valuable exercise in building confidence and momentum for the FA Cup final next Sunday, when Manchester United and Jose Mourinho will stand in the way of the only thing that can tiresome Chelsea's disappointment. From Premier League champions to outside the Champions League places in 12 months.

Two teams who have been relegated will take on each other when Swansea take on Stoke at the Liberty Stadium.

"I thought I had a chance of sneaking into the friendly games but I didn't", he said.

"In this case, what the players did last season, and what they have done this year, was massive".

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But there are more immediate reflections to be made by Chelsea's strategists on what went wrong this season, the abrupt decline from the team brilliantly guided to the 2017 Premier League title.

David Wagner keeping Huddersfield in the Premier League, Sean Dyche leading Burnley to Europe and Roy Hodgson turning around Crystal Palace's fortunes are just three examples of superb overachieving. Newcastle are locked into a mid-table finish. I would also like to applaud the players, led fantastically by the captain Jamaal Lascelles.

Chelsea have finished outside of the top four for just the third team in 16 seasons, and Conte is odds-on to leave the club in the summer. If the Magpies take points from Chelsea they will prevent the Blues from qualifying for Champions League.

"I have a contract and I'm committed for this club", he insisted.

Asked if Chelsea were now in a better place than when he arrived, Conte said: 'For sure, we worked two years and worked very hard to try to build something, to create a base.

The Chelsea boss holding his hands up: 'From the start, Newcastle outplayed us in every way...they deserved to win'.

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