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CHELSEA

v

SWANSEA CITY

Stamford Bridge, London

Saturday, 13th September 2014 ; 1500 GMT

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Swansea City FC will make the 187-mile journey east to take on an in-form Chelsea FC at Stamford Bridge, the latter’s home since 1905. Hardly anyone imagined that this early on in the season, this match would be a top-of-the-table clash, but that is the case and Swansea have nothing to be afraid of when they take on the mighty Blues.

The home team comes into this on the back of a scintillating 6-3 win at Everton. Spanish striker Diego Costa scored a brace that match and is sure to have the footballing world’s eyes on him. Him, along with Eden Hazard, however, did not take part in international action last week and face a late fitness test to check their availability for Saturday. Cecs Fabregas, however, should be available. As is the practice with most Mourinho teams, there is expected to be some rotation in the team given the depth of the squad. Chelsea have a 100% record so far in the Premier League and will look to continue that against Garry Monk’s men.

Swansea, however, will be no pushovers. They also come into this match with a 100% record so far having beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford on opening day. Gylfi Sigurdsson has been their best player so far with 4 assists and a goal to boot. The Swans will also be counting on the good form of Nathan Dyer to help them beat Chelsea at the Bridge – a feat accomplished by quite a few teams last season.  Along with playing an attacking brand of football, they have also been clinical defensively, allowing only one goal through in their three Premier League games so far.

Team news and tactics

Chelsea

Chelsea are sweating over the fitness of the aforementioned Costa and Hazard – both of whom missed their respective international duties with a hamstring and Achilles problem respectively. Apart from that, Mourinho will have his full squad to call on.

Chelsea will line up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation with Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas expected to sit deep in midfield. Ramires started along with Matic in that position against Everton with Fabregas playing the number 10 role. The Brazilian is, however, expected to drop to the bench with Andre Schurrle and Hazard taking up the wings. If Hazard fails to start, Willian is a ready replacement for the Belgian. Up front, Costa’s injury worry means that deadline day signing Loic Remy could start ahead of Didier Drogba as the striker. Oscar is expected to play just behind the strikers.

Chelsea will be looking to build on a solid start with their Spanish summer acquisitions getting off to a flier, both Fabregas and Costa leading the assist and goal-scoring charts already. Given the depth in Chelsea’s squad and Mourinho’s penchant for rotation, it will be interesting to see how this team progresses under the Portuguese.

Possible lineup (4-2-3-1): Courtois (GK); Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic; Matic, Fabregas; Hazard, Oscar, Schurrle; Costa

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Swansea

A number of Swansea’s players face a late fitness test including star-striker Wifried Bony who played for Ivory Coast and maybe dropped to the bench to recuperate from the long travel.  Marvin Emnes also faces a fitness test to determine if he is good to start. Apart from them, Leon Britton will definitely miss the game with a knee injury.

Swansea City will line up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation with Ki-Sung yeung and Jonjo Shelvey sitting in front of the back four with occasional forward runs by both.  They will be supported in attack by the in-form Gylfi Sigurdsson who will play the number 10 role just behind Wilfried Bony who is expected to lead the line. Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer will take up the position of attacking wingers, flanking the Ivory Coast man on both sides.

Garry Monk and his team believe in free-flowing football along with equal focus on defence. They will be stodgy opponents to any team, let alone one of the favourites to win the title itself. They demonstrated that against Manchester United at Old Trafford where they played without fear and were the better team on the day. Chelsea and Mourinho will be wary of the threat they pose.

Possible lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabianski (GK); Taylor, Fernandez, Williams, Rangel; Shelvey, Ki; Dyer, Sigurdsson, Routledge; Bony

Player to watch out for

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Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)

With four assists in three matches and looking very much like his old-self, the Spanish midfield maestro is all set to lead Chelsea to a fourth Barclays Premier League title. His presence in midfield gives something that many felt Chelsea lacked last season – the link between defence and attack. He may not grab the goals that Frank Lampard used to, however his set-up play is equally good – if not better – than the English midfielder.

Key facts

  • Although they had a poor season at Stamford Bridge last year, Chelsea are undefeated in 28 of their last 29 games at home.
  • Swansea have won 6 of their last 7 games in the Premier League
  • Diego Costa has scored 4 goals in 3 games for Chelsea. Fernando Torres took 39 games to reach the mark.
  • Sigurdsson has scored a goal and four assists already this season. It took him 58 games to achieve the same for Tottenham.

Prediction

Chelsea 2 – 1 Swansea

Swansea should prove to be tough opponents but Mourinho’s men have enough attacking prowess to see them off. Garry Monk and his men will be tough to beat no doubt, but the Portuguese manager is looking the more likely to have an upper hand this time around.

Blast from the past