Stamford Bridge, London
December 26th 2013, 1500 GMT
Swansea City will make the cross-country 186 mile journey to face Mourinho’s men at Stamford Bridge. The last time these two sides met in West London, Chelsea cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win. Chelsea also have the upper hand in overall matches with 9 victories out of 24 times they have played each other with Swansea managing 6 wins in the time.
Chelsea come into this one on the back of a 0-0 draw with Arsenal at The Emirates – a result that left both sides ruing missed chances. Given it was a Monday night game, Mourinho will definitely look to rotate his team and make use of the depth in talent he has at his disposal. Also, as is common with this time of the year, the fixtures come thick and fast and Chelsea will look to take full advantage of the aforementioned depth in their squad. Chelsea also have been facing a difficult time defensively having conceded 9 goals in their last 6 matches, with their last clean sheet (in a victory) coming against the lowly Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League.
Swansea City, meanwhile, are also facing their own mini crisis having lost their last game against Everton at the Liberty Stadium and come into this fixture without a win in 4 games in all competitions. They will, however, take heart from the fact that Stamford Bridge is no longer the fortress it used to be and will look to embarrass Chelsea on their own turf. Laudrup has been credited with Swansea playing Barcelona-style football and they certainly make a interesting team to watch. The Swans’ Premier League form has been erratic with just one win in the last four with 2 draws and a loss.
Team news and tactics
Chelsea played a near full strength team against Arsenal and will look to shuffle their players in the match against Swansea. Luckily for Mourinho, he has very little injury problems to contend with as only van Ginkel and Bertrand are not available for selection.
Luiz, Oscar and Schurrle all started from the bench against Arsenal and will hope for a starting berth this time around. Mikel, who started the game against Arsenal might also be benched if Mourinho looks to for his traditional formation while playing at home with Ramires and Lampard sitting in front of the back four.
Chelsea will play the usual 4-2-3-1 formation with Torres expected to lead the attack. It has been stressed recently that Chelsea are looking for a new striker and Torres will hope that games like these will boost his Chelsea career. Hazard’s pace and trickery has been a handful this season for defenders and he will look to do the same against The Swans. With both Ivanovic and Azpilicueta making their usual runs up and down the wing, Chelsea certainly do not look short of creativity. With Ramires and Lampard, they have a settled combination at the holding positions and will look to continue the good work from the clean sheet at The Emirates.
Mourinho went for the 4-3-3 lineup against Arsenal with Willian and Hazard providing support to Torres. It is expected that he will return to his trusted 4-2-3-1 formation for this game.
Possible starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Cech (GK), Ivanovic, Terry, Luiz, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Lampard; Schurrle, Hazard, Oscar; Torres
Unlike their opponents, Swansea do have a lot of injuries to contend with. Nathan Dyer and Michu are expected to miss out with ankle problems while Gary Monk and Michel Vorm continue to be unavailable owing to knee injuries.
Swansea put up a good performance against Everton and were unlucky to lose. The brilliance of Ross Barkley outdid them on that day and they’ll hope to see nothing of that sort from any Chelsea player. Swansea always look to play attacking football thanks to the teachings of the brilliant Michael Laudrup and this game will be no different. Although their form of last season (read Swanselona) is not to be seen this time around, they can certainly give the superstars of Chelsea a difficult time and make them work hard for the points.
Swansea usually play with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Shelvey and Canas sitting in front of the back four. The big misses for Swansea are the absence of two of their attacking options in Michu and Dyer. Wilfred Bony will look to try and fill the gap left by the Spanish international with Hernandez and Routledge flanking him to provide crosses in the box. With Davies and Tiandelli, Swansea too have attacking full backs but they might be limited to their defensive duties this time around given Chelsea’s attacking might.
Possible starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Tremmel (GK), Davies, Tiandelli, Chico, Williams; Shelvey, Canas; Hernandez, Routledge, DeGuzman; Bony
Player to watch out for
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
The Chelsea midfielder had been off to a slow start in the season. However, an eye-catching display against Sunderland a earned him praise from all quarters. With his brace against Sunderland, he also became Chelsea’s leading goalscorer so far this season and will look to continue his form against Swansea. Hazard is fast turning into a overall package as a goal-scoring and assist providing midfielder and Chelsea will be looking to him, Oscar and Schurrle for continued success in the seasons to come.
1) Swansea have not won a game on Boxing Day since 2007. Their last victory on this day was against Cheltenham Town in League One.
2) Chelsea, on the other hand have lost only one of their last eight Boxing Day fixtures and have not lost at Stamford Bridge on this day since 1995.
3) The Swans have not won at Stamford Bridge for 88 years. Since that time, they have lost seven and drawn three.
Chelsea 2 – 1 Swansea
Given Chelsea’s defensive vulnerability this season, Swansea will look to attack more and will probably end up getting a goal. However, Chelsea’s midfield will prove too much for Swansea’s defenders and The Blues should get a victory under their belt and look to keep up with Liverpool and Arsenal.