Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson believes West Ham United may get a lucky break when they face Chelsea on Monday night.
The Hammers travel to Stamford Bridge for Monday Night Football knowing defeat all but ends their slim chances of finishing seventh.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side have been chasing the ‘best of the rest’ spot and a potential place in Europe.
Hammers season threatens to end in damp squib
A dismal defeat to Everton at the weekend was followed by victories for both Wolves and Watford on Tuesday night.
That means West Ham must overturn a six-point deficit – given their inferior goal difference – with just six games remaining.
In-form Chelsea meanwhile are chasing a Champions League spot.
But the Blues are also in the quarter-finals of the Europa League three days after the game against the Hammers.
Sarri could play weakened team against West Ham
And Sky Sports pundit Merson, a Chelsea fan, believes that could dictate Maurizio Sarri’s team selection in West Ham’s favour.
“I expect Chelsea to win comfortably, but how many will be thinking about their Europa League quarter-final first leg on Thursday?” Merson told Sky Sports.
“Especially the manager as he hasn’t won anything. Coming fourth in the league won’t make a difference to him but winning the Europa is massive, so it will be interesting to see how he sets up.
“He has an excuse with his team selection because he could turn around and say he is looking at Thursday.
Music to the ears of under pressure Pellegrini
“If you were him that’s what you would be looking at. I think they might play their strongest team on Thursday.”
That will be music to the ears of Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini who is under pressure for the first time since the start of his tenure.
Fans have become disillusioned with the team’s inconsistency and poor attitude in certain games.
A Premier League-worst injury list has not helped.
But West Ham fans want to see a reaction from their team for the remaining six games to give them hope ahead of next season.