Chelsea swept aside Paul Clement’s Swansea City at Stamford Bridge, with a dominant display to maintain their lead at the summit of the English top flight.
Antonio Conte’s men put up a classy and dominant display to swat aside Swansea. Goals from Fabregas, Pedro and Diego Costa were enough to help see Chelsea ease to victory and Paul Clement’s side never really looked like they stood a chance.
The Swans, despite doing their best to keep Chelsea out for large parts of the game, were never able to threaten Chelsea enough and barely tested Thibaut Courtois. Fabianski made a number of superb saves to keep them alive, but they couldn’t complete a comeback after Llorente’s equalizer.
As we revisit Chelsea’s 10th consecutive victory at home, we take a look at some of the major talking points and things we learnt from a any easy victory for the League leaders.
Cesc – Just Being Fab
The 30-year-old, despite not starting or featuring as many games as he’d like this term, has been one of Chelsea’s finest players this season. 5 goals and 8 assists in 23 appearances this season doesn’t necessarily make for good reading, but he has started only 11 of those games.
He made his first start in the Premier League since Stoke City back in December and didn’t disappoint. The La Masia graduate put in a man of the match performance. He was at the heart of every Chelsea move going forward and capped off a superb display with a goal and an assist.
He opened the scoring for Chelsea in the 19th minute after linking up with Pedro and then returned the favour in the 71st minute after finding his compatriot with a pass at the edge of the box. It was Fabregas’ 300th Premier League appearance, a feat never before achieved by a Spanish player.
While it is unlikely that he will continue to start games more often ahead of Nemanja Matic in order to maintain the defensive stability in the squad, each passing performance by Fabregas is a reminder to the Italian of what he is leaving out of the first team.
The Spaniard is currently rivalling Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and N’golo Kante for the title of Chelsea’s best player this season. With 11 goals in 29 games this term, the Spaniard is only behind Diego Costa in the goal scoring charts for Antonio Conte’s side this season.
His 9 assists however, put him ahead of both Eden Hazard and Willian combined for Chelsea. Suffice to say, this is vintage Pedro. Chelsea jumped at the opportunity to sign him last year, dishing out a reported £19 million for him – a figure that increasingly looks like a bargain after every game.
After setting up Fabregas for Chelsea’s first goal, his 71st minute curling effort at goal was essentially his side’s winner on the night, before Costa sealed the deal for Chelsea 12 minutes later. Pedro is reaping the benefits of Antonio Conte’s methods this term, so much so that he managed to keep Willian out of the squad.
The 29-year-old is easily having one of the best seasons of his career, one he would surely hope to cap it off with silverware. It has taken time, especially after last season’s troubles, but it is clear that he is slowly, but steadily, becoming a fan favourite at Stamford Bridge.
Costa’s Steady Return
The Spanish international was on target for the second time in as many games for his side, after going through something of a goal drought which began at the start 0f 2017. He now has 17 goals to his name this season, and 5 assists as well.
Since the start of the calendar year, he has scored only 3 goals in 8 appearances this year in all competitions, as opposed to his superb run of 14 goals in 20 appearances in the first half of the season. Two of those goals have in his last two matches against Wolves and Swansea City.
By scoring his side’s third goal against Swansea, Costa has now bettered last season’s tally of 16 goals in 41 appearances. He is now only 4 goals short of bettering his 20 goal tally set in Chelsea’s double winning campaign two seasons ago.
While Chelsea do have goals coming in from other areas of the pitch as well, Costa is Chelsea’s first choice striker this term and Conte doesn’t quite trust Michy Batshuayi to lead his side’s attack.
The Spaniard’s influence is extremely important to the Blues’ title hopes, so Conte and the fans will hope that this is the start of a resurgence in the 28-year-old’s form.
Llorente’s Form Key To Survival
After moving to the Liberty Stadium last summer, the Spaniard immediately become a regular fixture in the Swans’ starting XI under both Francesco Guidolin and Bob Bradley. The 32-year-old has taken time to adjust to the English League but is now the club’s top scorer this term, with 9 goals.
Chances came few and far inbetween against Chelsea and it was clear that Swansea had prioritised defending over attack. But the former Athletic Bilbao striker still managed to leave his mark on the game with a superb header from a Gylfi Sigurdsson cross, late in the first half.
It showed those at Stamford Bridge exactly why Chelsea were interested in January, as escaped his marker and rose to the occasion (literally) when his side needed him the most. It was his third header of the season, while his other 6 goals have been split equally between his right and left feet.
It was a glimpse of what he is capable of on his best day and needless to say, his form will be key to their survival chances this term. Llorente is in unfamiliar territory, having never faced a fight for survival in his career.
With only 3 goals this year, he will have to pick up his form sooner rather than later if Swans are to stay up in the league for another season as the approach the business end of the campaign.
Tricky Fixtures Will Test Chelsea’s Resolve
It certainly looks like there’s no stopping Conte’s Blues now and while the do seem to have an almost unassailable lead at the top of the table, Antonio Conte will be all too wary of letting complacency set in with 12 fixtures remaining.
Those 12 fixtures include tricky away fixtures against West Ham and Stoke City, before they face Crystal Palace and later Manchester City. It is that time of the season, where teams threatened with relegation will be the most dangerous as they begin to fight for their life.
In their remaining fixtures of the season, they face Sunderland, Stoke City, Watford, Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough. Apart from these fixtures, they face Manchester City at home and Manchester United and Everton away.
It will be a test of Chelsea’s character and resolve when they come up against these so called ‘smaller teams’. Chelsea will have to dig deeper and deeper with each passing match now that we have approached the business end of the season, so maintaining focus, concentration and perhaps most importantly avoiding complacency will be key.