Premier League 17/18 Week 36: Swansea City vs Chelsea – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
The Swans will make a break for mid-table as they welcome a Chelsea side who are drifting towards their date at the FA Cup final
17:30 BST, Saturday 28th April, Liberty Stadium (Swansea, Wales) BT Sport
Sitting in 17th, the position directly above the Premier League’s drop-zone, Swansea are safe but sweating. With a match still to play against Southampton, they will know they need to keep daylight between themselves and the Saints to prevent any further tension clouding their remaining season.
Chelsea may not have the problems facing Carlos Carvalhal’s side, however, they do have the ignominy of turning from league champions to falling out of the privileged top-four. With much speculation still shrouding Antonio Conte’s future with the club, much could rest on their showing in the FA Cup but the Italian will need to keep his players primed and ready before they take their trip to Wembley.
Last Time Out
Manchester City 5-0 Swansea City (Premier League)
Swansea began the match by providing a guard of honour to the new Premier League champions and left the field looking over-awed by the occasion. The Swans fell into the trap of trying to play football against City and were left ruthlessly exposed by City’s slick passing.
Having lost two early goals, the visitors never looked like finding a grip on a game being dominated by a team wanting to impress in front of their own fans. Alfie Mawson had Swansea’s best chance of the afternoon but most of his game was spent trying to stymie the waves of sky blue shirts rolling towards him.
With 3 goals coming at regular intervals through the second half, it was a sobering lesson for a Swansea side left sitting on the edge of the relegation zone.
Chelsea 2-0 Southampton (FA Cup)
Conte’s side breezed into the FA Cup final with a commanding display that brushed aside the Saints to earn the right to march back to Wembley next month. Chelsea began the match the stronger and grew stronger in the game as it progressed. Willian was the first player to trouble the Southampton defence as he unleashed a strike against the woodwork, however, Chelsea had to wait until the second half before they took the lead.
Olivier Giroud was kept in the starting lineup although it came at the expense of Álvaro Morata rather than alongside the Spanish striker. Giroud vindicated the decision within a minute of the interval, dancing through the Saints defence before coolly firing the ball into the net. When he was replaced by Morata for the final 10 minutes, the substitute proved himself equally effective by doubling the lead and sealing Chelsea’s passage to face Manchester United at the end of the season.
Swansea City Lineup
Leroy Fer (Achilles) Renato Sanches (hamstring) and Wilfried Bony (ankle) are all unavailable through injury while Tammy Abraham is ineligible to play against his parent club. There are also doubts regarding Federico Fernández (knock) Kyle Bartley (knee) and Luciano Narsingh (ankle) which could well leave Carvalhal short of options for this match.
David Luiz (knee) and Ethan Ampadu (ankle) are unavailable while Marcos Alonso serves the second of a three-game retrospective ban for a foul on Shane Long.
Key Battle: Jordan Ayew (Swansea) vs Andreas Christensen (Chelsea)
Swansea looked a pale shadow of the attacking side they have been recently when Jordan Ayew missed 2 matches with a suspension. His return to the team brought with it a goal and although he didn’t score in their last match, he will once more be a threat this weekend.
While Chelsea were defensively robust last season, they have steadily lost that characteristic as this season has progressed. This also correlated directly with the form of Christensen, a player who has slightly lost his way in recent weeks. With Tim Cahill taking his place in several games to rest the young centre-back, Christensen could again start for the Blues this weekend and if so, will want to return a clean sheet to put his recent troubles behind him.
A team too honest?
A phrase which is becoming popular in modern punditry is that a player was “too honest” which lead to a failure in a penalty being awarded. This could be argued to have affected a part of Swansea’s most recent game against Manchester City. A surge down the left wing and into the penalty area by Martin Olsson ended with the wing-back hurdling a challenge from Danilo but losing control of the ball.
In contrast, Raheem Sterling broke into the Swansea box at the start of the second half, went passed Federico Fernández but left his leg trailing behind to help initiate contact and win his team a penalty. While this would hardly have made a difference to the overall result, it highlighted a difference in attitude between the teams and is symptomatic of Swansea’s season to date.
Success or failure
Antonio Conte was quick to point out last season that the Blues Premier league title came well ahead of schedule. Having originally planned to build up Chelsea’s reputation on the way to winning silverware, the championship immediately tipped heightened expectations on his squad of players for this season.
While he would have fully expected his team to qualify for the Champions League through a top-four finish this term, he guarded against talk of back-to-back titles during the pre-season last summer. With their FA Cup final ticket now booked for next month, it throws up a simple question. If they beat Manchester United, and their old manager, to win the FA Cup, will their season be judged as a success or a failure?
Prediction: Swansea City 2-2 Chelsea
While the Blues have just secured consecutive wins in the league for the first time in 2018, there is still a vulnerability about Conte’s team at present. Swansea have shown under Carvalhal that they can perform when they really need to against teams both above and below the Blues current position. With needs reaching a critical point once more for the Swans, they are likely to provide a stern test for Chelsea which could cause a high-scoring draw.
(Photo Credit: Reuters/Phil Noble