Swansea travel to West London in a terrible run of form to take on the reigning champions, only boosted slightly by their hard-fought draw last weekend against Bournemouth
The draw against Bournemouth came after a string of 5 losses in all competitions for the Swans. Former Blues assistant coach Paul Clement now brings his charges to his former stomping ground in the hope of grinding out a similar result. They will be glad to have Wilfried Bony back among their ranks, and back to some semblance of form while also ruing the absence of Tammy Abraham from this game.
Of the 3 matches Chelsea have lost this season so far, 2 have come against opposition from the lower half – Burnley and Crystal Palace. Hence, they will be wary of not going into this one as a foregone conclusion. The form-guide makes good reading for Blues fans though, as they are unbeaten in 4 games after the 3-0 thrashing at the hands of AS Roma in the Champions League.
Team News & Tactics
With 10 games coming up in between now and the end of the year, squad rotation will be expected for this game as confirmed by boss Antonio Conte. The Italian also confirmed the unavailability of David Luiz (knee) and Charly Musonda (undisclosed). While Michy Batshuayi and Kenedy have started training again, this game might come too soon for the duo.
A slight change in formation in recent weeks has seen Chelsea line up in a 3-5-2 formation with Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata being the two attacking men up-front. The Belgian is seemingly back to his best and is looking more dangerous with each passing game. It may however, be possible that he be given the night off considering the busy schedule ahead for the Blues.
However, Willian, who has himself been in a purple patch recently, will be vying for a starting role yet again. Conte might see this as a blessing in disguise and give some of his other stars a much-needed break. This will be the third game Chelsea play in the last 7 days, including 2 away games which included a 5000-mile round trip to Baku.
This game may see Conte revert to a more attacking 3-4-3 formation as opposed to the one last weekend against Liverpool with 3 defensive-minded central midfielders. A more demanding home crowd and a need for 3 points to keep pace with Manchester City and United will also force the Italian’s hand for an attacking lineup.
Probable lineup (3-4-3): Courtois (GK), Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta; Alonso, Fabregas, Kante, Moses; Willian, Pedro, Morata
Paul Clement has almost a full squad to choose from except Abraham who is ineligible to face his parent club. Federico Fernandez will also miss out after reportedly being granted compassionate leave following the death of his father. Kyle Bartley – a long-term absentee – remains sidelined.
The Swans will look to line up in a defensively-shaped 4-3-1-2 formation with Mike van der Hoorn expected to take Fernandez’s place in central defence. The three personnel forming the midfield are well capable of holding back and defending, while also helping to link the two ends of the pitch in case of a swift counter-attack.
The visitors have a relatively good defensive record for the position they find themselves in, having conceded 15 goals so far – only 4 more than their hosts and the same as 10th placed Southampton.
It is then obvious where the problems lie – at the head of the field. Abraham, who is their leading goalscorer with 4 goals, will be sorely missed come Wednesday evening. Bony, who had a goal ruled out against Bournemouth, looks to be slowly getting back to his pre-Manchester City form and will be a threat to the Chelsea defence.
Probable lineup (4-3-1-2): Fabianski (GK), Olsson, Mawson, van der Hoorn, Naughton; Clucas, Fer, Sung-yeung; Sanches ; Ayew, Bony
- Swansea have failed to score in their last 3 Premier League matches
- Tammy Abraham, who is ineligible for this match, has scored roughly 60% of Swansea’s Premier League goals: 4 out of a total of 7
- Chelsea are unbeaten in 9 of their last 10 games against Swansea in all competitions
- Chelsea drew their last game after a 4-game winning streak while Swansea drew theirs after a 4-game losing one
- Swansea’s last away win came back in August against bottom-placed Crystal Palace
1. Chelsea Clean Sheet – NO @2.20
2. Swansea Asian Handicap +2.0 @1.960
3. Alvaro Morata to score anytime @1.53
1. Over 4.5 Match Goals @4.00
Player to watch
Expected to start this game after a few appearances off the bench, the Brazilian is in prime goal-scoring form at the moment. This game may be the perfect opportunity for him to show his value to the side, while also keeping alive the competition for places within the squad.
There are some rumours of him favouring a move away from Stamford Bridge in search of more game time. Whether that has spurred him on to perform better or if he is just auditioning for the big clubs to come and get him, the gain, for now, is Chelsea’s.
Chelsea 2-0 Swansea
It will be expected that the champions take all 3 points off the struggling Swans. The Blues may just have too much quality on the field for the Welsh side on this day. Add to that, a lack of teeth in attack for the visitors and a confident-looking Chelsea defence, it may just prove to be a painful return for Clement.
However, with the goal-scoring form some of the Blues’ attackers are in, it might be more than the conservative 2-goal margin we are predicting. All in all, anything but a Chelsea win would be major news.