The Blues return to League action away to Swansea after the midweek European heroics at Stamford Bridge, with three points crucial as title rivals Liverpool and Manchester City entertain each other. Two 1-0 reverses in our last two Premier League outings away from the Bridge have hampered our title charge and those results sandwiched in between hugely impressive home wins against Arsenal and PSG show there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Perhaps all the more impressive then that we’re in with a real shout of domestic and European glory during a season in which one of the modern football buzzwords ‘transition’ has been frequently mentioned.
The Liberty Stadium hasn’t been a particularly happy hunting ground for us since the Swans’ promotion three seasons ago. Two 1-1 draws in the League and a 0-0 stalemate in the League Cup semi final which saw Eden Hazard sent off for the infamous ball boy incident, and also saw us crash out of the competition. With results having largely gone against Gary Monk’s side on Saturday afternoon, they lie in fifteenth place in the table, just three points clear of the relegation places, though with a vastly superior goal difference. Certainly still in need of a result or two to ensure their Premier League status for next season, they’ll be keen to hassle, harry and press us for possession particularly in the midfield areas, whilst leading scorer Wilfried Bony does pose a threat up front. They’ve struggled for goals with the continued absence of last season’s star man Michu, though he was admittedly struggling to reach the heights of his first campaign before injury saw him ruled out for the remainder of this season.
There are no new injury concerns for Jose’s side, if a few weary legs, after Wednesday nights’ superb effort. You would expect that one or both of Matic and Ramires would come back in to the side with both having been ineligible to play against the French champions. David Luiz ran himself in to the ground along with the majority of the side and the fresh legs of the two previously mentioned along with Mo Salah could be key to a successful visit to South Wales. Two that may have given Jose a bit of a selection nudge are Demba Ba and particularly Andre Schurrle who was superb having replaced Hazard early on. The two also seemed to link up well after Ba was a late introduction in the second half as we chased that crucial second goal.
Jose has sought to play down our chances and it does feel like there’s no real pressure on us. Sensational if we pull it off, and you can bet Jose will make sure everyone knows about it, but if we don’t he’ll point to the fact we couldn’t bring in who we wanted in the summer and that it’s primarily a young talented squad and side who are only going to get better in reality.
We’ll have to do without arguably our biggest talent in Hazard for this one, but with plenty of other options to come in and the title still well within our grasp I fancy us to get back to winning ways on the road with victory by the odd goal in three. Come on you Blues!