Chelsea’s 3-2 loss to Sunderland on Saturday means that they can finish no higher than ninth in the table, making them the worst defending champions in Premier League history.
The Blues have disappointed throughout the campaign, having looked like shadows of the team that won the title last season under the guidance of Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese coach was sacked in December after winning only three of the first 16 games of the season and losing nine.
Chelsea have stabilised under interim coach Guus Hiddink, who has lifted them into the top half of the table, but they will not be playing European football next term, leaving incoming boss Antonio Conte with a lot of work to do.
Chelsea do still have two games of the season remaining, against Liverpool and new champions Leicester City respectively but any result in those matches won’t mask what has been an underwhelming campaign.
There was more bad news for Chelsea following the loss to Sunderland, as John Terry will not be able to take part in the last two games after receiving two yellow cards against the Black Cats.
The talismanic captain is likely to leave Stamford Bridge having failed to extend his current deal beyond the summer, meaning he may have made his last competitive appearance for Chelsea.
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