A Premier League season is always like a long, winding road which is full of twists and turns. For defending champions Chelsea, it has been a story of two seasons where a struggling first half has followed by an impressive second.
Since former manager Jose Mourinho departed back in December after a 2-1 loss to league leaders Leicester City, interim manager Guus Hiddink has guided the Blues to 15 consecutive league games without a loss, during which the club has climbed to 10th with 44 points.
The Blues now look to extend that impressive streak on Saturday when they travel to the Liberty Stadium to face Swansea City.
Hiddink’s boys produced a stellar performance last time out when youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek opened the scoring with a 20th-minute goal and Pedro added a brace as the West Londoners clinched a convincing 4-0 away victory against League’s last boy Aston Villa.
Despite Hiddink’s success in his second spell as caretaker, owner Roman Abramovich has appointed current Italy national team and former Juventus boss Antonio Conte on Monday to take the reins after Euro 2016.
The Blues also have had very little trouble with the Swans at the Liberty Stadium, winning each of their last two meetings in south Wales by a combined score of 6-0, which includes a 5-0 thrashing last January.
Meanwhile, Swansea City have produced their best form of the season leading into this league clash. The Swans have managed to pick up 10 points from their last five league outings to distance themselves from the relegation zone with 37 points; 10 clear of 18th-place Sunderland.
Swansea – Andre Ayew will be available again after the Ghanaian recovered from an ankle injury. Neil Taylor and Modou Barrow could also return to the starting eleven after being left out of the team at Stoke last weekend following international exertions. Alberto Paloschi and Jefferson Montero are pushing for starts after coming off as substitutes to make an impact in the Potteries.
Chelsea – Chelsea will be without the service of Diego Costa, who is serving the additional one-match ban handed to him by the FA recently while fellow striker Loic Remy will miss out after picking up a groin injury in the 4-0 victory over Aston Villa last weekend. Kurt Zouma will not play as he continues to recover from knee surgery while doubts still remain regarding the fitness of John Terry, Gary Cahill, and Eden Hazard. But Terry and Cahill both expected to return to the first eleven.
Swansea Predicted Line-up:
Fabianski; Rangel, Fernandez, Williams, Naughton; Cork, Britton, Fer; Sigurdsson; Gomis, Routledge.
Chelsea Predicted Line-up:
Thibaut Courtois; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahil, Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Mikel; Willian, Loftus-Cheek, Pedro; Pato.
Bafetimbi Gomis vs John Terry
French international Bafetimbi Gomis happens to be the most influential player in this Swansea City squad. The prolific striker joined the Swans in 2014 summer and has been quite effective. Since Wilfried Bony’s departure Gomis has played a crucial role in the team. Chelsea veteran John Terry will have to be vigilant so that Gomis does not impose any threat on the Chelsea goal.
Willian vs Kyle Naughton
Willian is one of the most hardworking players in the Chelsea squad. The Brazilian generally operates from the right wing and holds the potential to impose constant threat upfront. Swansea right-back Kyle Naughton will be in charge to mark the energetic Brazilian.
Swansea City has never beaten Chelsea in a league match during its time in the Premier League (D3 L6).
The Blues won 5-0 in this fixture last season, their biggest away win over Swansea in any competition.
Chelsea is looking to keep a fourth consecutive clean sheet at the Liberty Stadium (in all competitions).
Swansea playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson (10) is the first Icelandic player to score 10+ goals in a Premier League season since Eidur Gudjohnsen in 2004-05 (12).
Swansea’s last five home league games have produced a total of just six goals, with no side scoring more than once in any of those fixtures.
Swansea Win – 14/5
Draw – 5/2
Chelsea Win – 11/10
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 15 league matches, winning all of their last three away games. They will be obviously looking to win another one to keep climbing up the table despite Champions League dreams completely vanished for them.
On the other hand, Swansea fought back bravely from 2 goals down to snatch a priceless point at Stoke last weekend. They will be keen to carry the good morale into Saturday’s challenging clash. They have already defeated one London side in Arsenal and could take some confidence from that.
But the Swans have not won against Chelsea in their last 9 meetings and a similar result could repeat here.
Our prediction for the match Chelsea winning by 2-0.