Chelsea are firmly in the fight for a Champions League spot for next season after Olivier Giroud secured a 1-0 win against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The striker netted his fifth goal in all competitions in the 32nd minute to deny Liverpool the chance to virtually assure themselves of a place in the top four.
However, should the Reds beat Brighton on the final day of the season then, despite Chelsea’s results in their final two games of the season, Liverpool will be playing Champions League football over the Blues next term.
Conte had predicted that Liverpool could be tired after travelling to Rome in midweek, where the Reds dumped Roma out of the Champions League with a 7-6 aggregate score-line in their semi-final tie. And, indeed, it seemed as though some of the Liverpool players were struggling with fatigue, although the visitors still created the better of the early chances in west London.
Thibaut Courtois was needed to keep out three efforts from Sadio Mane in the first half while Mohamed Salah – returning to Chelsea for the first time since leaving in 2016 – was booked for diving in the area as he appealed for a penalty kick.
With Chelsea having had more than a week to recover since beating Swansea 1-0 away, the hosts looked fresher and threatened at goal when Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas both sent efforts wide. The pressure from the Blues eventually paid off in the 31st minute when Victor Moses’ fine cross from the right was headed into the back of the net by Giroud, who started up front in the absence of the injured Alvaro Morata.
Chelsea thought they had doubled their lead in the second period, but Antonio Rudiger was rightly adjudged to have been offside in the 56th minute. With Liverpool losing, Klopp went all-out attack as he sent on Dominic Solanke for Andy Robertson and Jordan Henderson for Nathanie Clyne, meaning the visitors reverted back to a more comfortable formation.
But Chelsea continued to create, with the returning Marcos Alonso volleying wide late on, but there were to be no more goals as the Blues kept alive their hopes of finishing in the top four while Liverpool must beat already-safe Brighton next Sunday to play in Europe’s elite competition next term