By, Ayodeji Itasanmi (Twitter: @aryhorblueblood)
Stamford Bridge/November 29, 2017
Our winning streak was cut short at just four with the draw at Anfield on Saturday evening, which in my opinion is not a fair reflection of our efforts, but we have the opportunity to begin another long winning starting with the visit of Swansea to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night which is then followed by games against the likes of Newcastle, Brighton, Huddersfield, Southampton et al. After three consecutive matches on the road against West Brom, Qarabag and Liverpool we’re back in familiar surroundings of Stamford Bridge with back to back home games against Swansea on Wednesday and Newcastle on Saturday lunch time.
Chelsea’s duels with Swansea dated back to November 1925 when we faced off in the old Division Two when we lost at home 3-1 to the Swans and since that first time we have faced Swansea a further 32 times in league and cup competitions with Chelsea winning 15 and losing a further 6 with 11 draws in between. We’ve met Swansea City just three times outside the league, in league cup competitions, with the spoils shared with a win apiece and a draw. In the Premier League however we’ve met 12 times with Chelsea losing just once (W6 D5). We have only failed to score against the Swans just once in the league in our only reverse against the Welsh side. Paul Clement will be hoping his players can repeat their exploits at Wembley earlier in the season, when they held Spurs to a scoreless draw, when they visit Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night. As a matter of fact, Swansea have more points on their travels (5) than they have at the Liberty Stadium and Clement will be hoping they keep their ‘impressive record’ on the road going.
With Victor Moses making his return to the first team against Liverpool at the weekend, only Michy Batshuayi is a doubt for this match which will give the coach some selection headaches ahead of the visit of the Swans. Davide Zappacosta had held down the forte very well while Victor Moses recuperate from his hamstring injury but the Nigerian might make his long-awaited playing return against Swansea giving the Italian a deserved rest. Having missed the Liverpool game altogether, both David Luiz and Toni Rudiger will be in line to make a return to the starting lineup. Danny Drinkwater gave a very good account of himself in his first start for the club in the league and I’m sure he did enough to make an impression on the coach to make his first league start at Stamford Bridge especially with looking like he needs a bit of rest. The late introduction of Fabregas on Saturday is certainly one of the reasons why both Morata and Hazard didn’t impact the game at Anfield as much as they have done in recent games especially in the second half and Conte would have taken note for sure with the Spaniard’s huge impact during his late cameo. Hazard was bordering on unplayable during the first half at Anfield and that would surely be giving Paul Clement sleepless nights especially if he watched the duo almost singlehandedly destroyed West Brom’s carefully constructed defense. Slowly but steadily Kante is getting back to his best and should continue at the heart of the midfield on Wednesday. Willian has been knocking on the door to get back into the starting XI recently and he made a massive case for his inclusion with that showman cameo on Saturday rescuing a point for the team with that audacious chip and should Conte decide to go back tested and trusted 3-4-3 formation then the Brazilian will be in the reckoning for a starting place on Wednesday night. Azpilicueta is the one player in the team to have played every single minute of Antonio Conte’s 51 Premier League matches and he’s sure to make that 52 as he seemed to have gotten over the knock he suffered during the Liverpool match on Saturday.
Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Rudiger; Victor Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso; Hazard, Willian; Morata.
Last Five Matches: DWWWW
Injuries: Michy Batshuayi (Ankle) –Doubt;
**UPDATE: Conte has said in his press conference that David Luiz will remain out for tomorrow
Time is fast running out for Paul Clement if results don’t take a positive turn starting with their visit to Stamford Bridge having amassed a meager nine points from their first 13 Premier League matches. Tammy Abraham will be ineligible for this match, the terms of his loan deal preventing him from playing against his parent club, so Clement may again to the returning Wilfried Bony as he did at the weekend Bournemouth. Paul Clement likes to line up with a 4-3-3 formation or a 4- Diamond-2 with both Tammy Abraham or Wilfried Bony and Jordan Ayew at the pinnacle. Alfie Mawson and Federico Fernandez are usually the center back pairing for Clement, with Fernandez expected to come back following the death of his father. Kyle Naughton and Martin Olsson are almost always the preferred choice at full back. Renato Sanches hasn’t exactly lit up the Premier League like many anticipated but should still be in the team on Wednesday night if the coach so decided or the Dutchman Leroy Fer may come in in the place of the Portugal international. Roque Mesa, Ki Sung-Yeung and Tim Carroll are also options in midfield with the pace of Nathan Dyer and Jordan Ayew are also weapons that Clement can call on should he decides to play on the counter as he’s likely to.
Fabianski; Naughton, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson; Mesa, Fer, Sanches; Dyer, Bony, Ayew.
Last 5 matches: DLLLL
Injuries: Kyle Bartley (Knee) –Out.
Alvaro Morata vs. Alfie Mawson
Alvaro Morata drew blanks last Saturday but will be looking to continue his recent goal scoring form against the Swans and to do that he will have to outsmart and outplay one of the strongest young defenders in the Premier League in Alfie Mawson, hopefully Morata will be the one to win this duel.
Eden Hazard vs. Kyle Naughton
Kyle Naughton will certainly have the toughest job of the Swansea players on Wednesday night with him likely to be assigned the job of stopping Eden Hazard by every means necessary. Stopping Hazard from playing, in the form that he is in, is like trying to stop the rain from falling. Naughton will surely have his hands full on match day
This game is very important to both teams who are fighting on opposing sides of the league table. Antonio Conte will surely be looking to use the team’s next two games to try and close the gap on the front two having dropped two valuable points at the weekend. Swansea will likely set up not to get beat and as such they are likely to cede possession of the ball to Chelsea which might be a dangerous thing with the form the Chelsea strikers are in, especially if Cesc Fabregas is afforded space in midfield. Until the weekend do Keep The Blue Flag Flying High!
Thumbnail image courtesy of: Bleacher Report
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