Chelsea will look to continue their 15 game unbeaten streak in the Premier League as they travel to the Liberty Stadium to face a 15th placed Swansea side at full strength and nearly safe from relegation.
After thrashing Aston Villa four goals to nothing at Villa Park, Chelsea will look to build on that performance when they take on stronger opposition in the form of Swansea. This will be their first match since the confirmation of Antonio Conte’s summer arrival and the players now have the added motivation to impress a manager they can be sure will be watching intently.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference at Cobham, interim manager Guus Hiddink gave a squad injury update and spoke of Antonio Conte’s appointment.
Speaking about the youngsters
As reported in Chelseafc.com, the Dutchman said that he will have to call up some youngsters into the squad due to injuries. A young Chelsea team started in last week’s win over Aston Villa, featuring the likes of Matt Miazga and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. This week’s game at Swansea provides another opportunity for the youngsters to get more minutes under their belt and test themselves against stronger opposition. Chelsea’s problems with regard to incorporating youth players into the team are well documented, so getting to see the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek start and Jake Clarke-Salter getting game time will be a welcome sight for the travelling Chelsea fans.
Hiddink said “We have a few injured players so we will bring in some youngsters,”citing injuries to various key players like John Terry, Matic, Hazard and Remy.
Speaking on injuries and squad selection
Chelsea go into this match a significantly weaker side, with Loic Remy adding to their list of injured players last week. On being asked about the Frenchman, he said “I don’t know when he will be recovered, it’s a groin problem but it will last. When you have that problem you cannot train properly.”
Matic is out with a leg injury, skipper John Terry has been ruled out and Eden Hazard is still unavailable. Gary Cahill may make the squad after training yesterday. An injury to Remy and a ban for Costa still leaves Hiddink with options though, with Bertrand Traore, Pato and the now fit Flacao among those who will be hoping to get the nod.
On this, he said, “We’ll see, we had only a few strikers in December and January because apart from Diego Costa they were all injured. Who will start tomorrow? You will see tomorrow.”
On Antonio Conte’s appointment
After a lot of speculation, Chelsea finally announced that Antonio Conte would be taking over as Jose Mourinho’s permanent successor in the summer, as Head Coach after the upcoming Euro 2016.
On being asked for his opinion on the matter, he said “It’s the choice of the club and when you look at his record he had a good spell at Juventus, where he won the title in Italy, that’s always good because this club is always keen to play for titles. It’s a big job regardless of the circumstances Chelsea have been in this year. He is equipped, able and used to the pressure which is always on at big clubs to win titles.”
Hiddink also revealed the Italian had requested to come and meet and shake hands with the players.
In a season which was over for Chelsea a month ago, it seemed the Blues didn’t have much to play for. But the players now have the motivation of having to impress future manager Antonio Conte before his arrival in the summer. Chelsea are sure to field another young side against Swansea and fringe players like Pato, Rahman and Falcao will look to make most of their opportunities as they look to dispatch a full strength Swansea side and continue their unbeaten run to 16 games in the Premier League since December.