Chelsea face Swansea at Stamford Bridge looking to strengthen their position at the top of the Premier League table, but they face a side reinvigorated in their battle to stay in the division.
Since Paul Clement arrived, the Swans have climbed out of the relegation zone and won four games, including at Anfield against Liverpool. They also came within minutes of securing a draw away at Manchester City, so they are more than capable of threatening the Blues going forward this weekend. But Chelsea are much more defensively organised than both Liverpool and City and will aim to pick Swansea off. There will be spaces that open up, because Swansea set up higher up the pitch. Their aim will be to get in behind N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic to get Gylfi Sigurdsson, who will drift inside from the right hand side and try to get as close to Fernando Llorente as possible. Jack Cork’s passing range will be crucial to doing this.
On the other wing, Wayne Routledge will aim to get in behind Chelsea’s wingback, most likely Victor Moses. He’ll look to pull the three centre backs apart, creating even more space for Llorente and Siguardsson.
Chelsea will find it easy to get close to Swansea’s goal, because the vistiors are unlikely to play a specialist defensive midfielder. Leroy Fer, who will struggle when put on the back foot when being run at, will likely join Cork and Tom Carroll. Both sides’ best dribblers play out wide, and like Swansea, one winger, namely Eden Hazard, will cut inside to go one on one with Fer, while Pedro will double up on the fullback alongside Moses.
Swansea will get chances, but will have to penetrate the best defence in the country; Chelsea have conceded just 18 times this season. On the front foot, they are equally as efficient, scoring the joint-second highest amount of goals with 54. This game comes down to resistance and who has the most. There could be value in backing both teams to score, but Chelsea’s extra protection in midfield, as well as their quality and intensity in attack should get them the victory.