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EPL: Chelsea v Swansea City Preview


We preview Saturday’s EPL clash between Chelsea and Swansea.

High-flying Chelsea hosts a rejuvenated Swansea side in a tie that epitomises the hurly-burly nature of the Premier League. One wouldn’t even be that surprised if Paul Clement’s men were able to pull one over on the runaway leaders. Clement spent two spells at Chelsea in a coaching capacity, memorably helping Carlo Ancelotti secure a famous domestic double. This, however, is not a time for empty nostalgia. Though they sit four points above the drop at the moment, the nature of the relegation battle is such that one slip changes the entire complexion of the fight. Chelsea will realise that potential champions simply win these games, so expect Conte to go all out for victory.

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Chelsea v Swansea City | Saturday 25 February | Stamford Bridge | 17:00

To Win (90 Mins)
Chelsea 1/4 | Draw 47/10 | Swansea 19/2

Conte will clearly look to bring back the backbone of the squad this week, with the possible exception of David Luiz. Luiz has had knee problems and this may present an opportunity for either one of Terry, Zouma or Ake. I believe Zouma would be the man selected should Conte opt for caution. Conte will be all too aware of the threat Swansea pose on the counterattack: just look at that 3-2 away victory at Anfield. I wouldn’t be surprised if he instructs Kante to do a man-marking job on Sigurdsson. Sigurdsson is the creative hub of that team and his negation could greatly impede Swansea.

Diego Costa looks set to sign a lucrative new contract, allaying the months of agonizing torment that Chelsea fans had to endure. He will likely be partnered by the industrious Willian and incandescent Hazard, leaving Pedro on the bench. Their comfortable cup victory over Wolves would have pleased Conte, allowing him the freedom to ring the changes and give players some breathing space. Despite Swansea’s excellent recent run, I don’t see this Chelsea juggernaut slowing down just yet.

Swansea City
What a difference two months makes. Swansea have won four of their last six games, developing a coherent style of play for the first time in ages. The acquisition of Tom Carroll has completely changed the dynamic of the midfield, allowing Sigudsson the time and space to ghost into advantageous positions. They will be without the services of Jefferson Montero this week, while Nathan Dyer is out for the rest of the season. Ki Sung-Yeung will also miss out while Leon Britton is expected to return to the subs bench.
The Kante factor may prove decisive in this match. Swansea rely on Sigurdsson collecting the ball in pockets of space that allow him to express himself. I think that Conte will be all too aware of this and will burden Kante with the task of suppressing him. This could severely hamper Swansea’s efficiency. Additionally, Olsson may find it difficult to balance his attacking and defensive impulses with the overlapping runs of Moses to consider.

Verdict: Chelsea 1/4 I was quite tempted to go for Chelsea to win both halves, but Swansea’s recent pluckiness is not to be scoffed at. Swansea may be riding a tide of momentum, but Chelsea are simply too athletic and talented for this side. They don’t have the same defensive naivety that Liverpool possess, and thus won’t get exposed to basic counterattacks.

Written Damien Kayat!

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