Paul Clement returns to Stamford Bridge on Saturday as the new Swansea coach hopes to put a dent in his former side’s title hopes. Clement spent two separate spells coaching at Chelsea and helped Carlo Ancelotti to win the title for the west London club, but faces an altogether different task as Swansea boss.
Swansea have only won one of 11 previous Premier League games against Chelsea (D4, L6). The Welsh side drew 2-2 at Stamford Bridge last season but have lost their four other Premier League games away to Chelsea. However, the Swans are unbeaten in the last three meetings (W1, D2).
Chelsea looking to extend advantage at top
Chelsea head into their Premier League fixture looking to extend their lead at the top of the table to 11 points. For much of the last month, Chelsea have struggled to replicate the form which first got them to the top of the Premier League table but with an eight-point lead still intact, Antonio Conte has some room to breathe. However, the Italian tactician has repeatedly warned his side of complacency.
Pedro is arguably Chelsea's key man right now with six goals from eight games, but whoever takes responsibility in the final third, Swansea are up against it to halt Chelsea's run of 11 successive wins at Stamford Bridge.
Preparing for Swansea at Cobham today… ?????? pic.twitter.com/TNGuGOArfP
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 24, 2017
Chelsea Team News
Kurt Zouma, John Terry and Nathan Ake will likely be dropped after starting against wolves in the FA Cup, though David Luiz's knee concerns may open up a chance in defence for one of the trio. Thibaut Courtois is a slight doubt following a stomach bug, so Asmir Begovic may well continue between the sticks if the Belgian No.1 does not recover in time.
Clement hoping for happy return
The Swans are locked in a relegation battle following a poor start to the season but are now four points clear of the drop zone following Clement's fine start to life in south Wales. Swansea have won four of their last six league games, and a shock 3-2 victory over Liverpool at Anfield will have sent Antonio Conte a warning that Chelsea should not take Saturday's match lightly.
It has been a remarkable improvement from a group of players who did not seem to know where their next win was coming from, but with Alfie Mawson and Federico Fernandez forming a partnership at the back and both Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente performing to a high level in the final third, Swansea are now favourites to remain in the division.
Their four-point cushion takes the pressure off ahead of a daunting trip to West London, but Clement will see it as an opportunity to show their rivals that they possess the attributes to quickly move away from trouble before the closing weeks of the season.
— Swansea City AFC (@SwansOfficial) February 25, 2017
Swansea Team News
The Swans are sure to miss the vision and passing quality of Ki Sung-Yueng. They are without Nathan Dyer after the winger suffered an Achilles injury in his side's win over Leicester two weeks ago. That could give Clement the chance to hand a first Premier League start to Luciano Narsingh, who moved to the Liberty Stadium during the transfer window.
Jefferson Montero remains a doubt with a hamstring problem, though Leon Britton may return from a back complaint.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro, Costa, Hazard
Swansea (4-3-3): Fabianski; Naughton, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson; Cork, Carroll, Fer; Narsingh, Sigurdsson, Llorente
Players to watch out
Diego Costa has scored seven goals in his four Premier League games against Swansea, more than he has against any other side in the competition. This includes a hat-trick in this exact fixture in September 2014.
Sigurdsson has scored four Premier League goals against Chelsea, more than he has against any other side (two for Swansea, two for Tottenham). The Icelander has also been involved in more Premier League goals than any midfielder this season (16, eight goals and eight assists).
Chelsea 2-1 Swansea
Chelsea may seem confident going into this match, but Swansea’s power to overturn things should never be excluded. Swansea are currently receiving plenty of praise for their solidarity at the back and play in attack under Clement while earlier this month, they gave a good account of themselves away at Man City. Even though Chelsea seem like the stronger team on this match, expect Swansea to put up a real fight and even score a goal.
The match will telecast at 20:30 IST on Star Sports Select HD network on Saturday, 25th February 2017.