The FourFourTwo Preview: Swansea vs Chelsea
And you thought the big game was happening at Anfield…
This is the sort of game where Jose Mourinho comes into his own. Where his ability to manage the psychology of the individual and the team can give them an edge when the pressure is really on.
- Hull 1-0 Swansea (Prem)
- Swansea 3-0 Norwich (Prem)
- Arsenal 2-2 Swansea (Prem)
- Everton 3-2 Swansea (Prem)
- Swansea 1-2 WBA (Prem)
- Chelsea 2-0 PSG (CL)
- Chelsea 3-0 Stoke (Prem)
- PSG 3-1 Chelsea (CL)
- Palace 1-0 Chelsea (Prem)
- Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal (Prem)
After watching his side claw back PSG’s 3-1 advantage in the Champions League and advance to the semi-finals, Mourinho knows his players will be a little jaded for the trip to South Wales. He’ll have to lift them mentally and physically and manage the impact of Sunday’s other game: Liverpool vs Manchester City.
Before Swansea and Chelsea take to the field that day, the Blues’ fellow title contenders meet at Anfield. The master of mind games will have to conjure something special from his players – this marathon is heading into the final straight and there are two trophies to fight for.
Things aren’t as promising at the Liberty Stadium, but they’re at a similar tipping point. The Swans are six points clear of the relegation trapdoor with five games left to play.
Their run-in is favourable. Bar Sunday’s visit of Chelsea, they’re facing sides with little or nothing to play for – mid-table frontrunners Southampton and Newcastle, as well as Aston Villa who aren’t out of danger yet but should survive, and Sunderland who look doomed.
Even if the bottom-of-the-table Black Cats win both of their games in hand they’ll still be stuck on 31 points and in the bottom three.
There’s no better way for Garry Monk to stake his claim for the permanent job than guiding the team to safety. He’s got the perfect conditions to achieve this goal.
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is set to miss out after picking up a calf injury on Tuesday night against PSG. Monk has a fully fit squad to pick from.
Player to watch: Andre Schurrle (Chelsea)
With Hazard set to miss out, the German will have to show he’s the man to fill the Belgian’s mercurial boots. He certainly did that against PSG when he came off the bench to propel Chelsea into the last four.
The German pounced to open the scoring in the 32nd minute, sending the Blues on their way to a memorable comeback. He was energetic, direct and tactically adroit, sticking to Mourinho’s instructions, providing the team with an attacking threat and maintaining defensive shape out of possession.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Chelsea 1-0 Swans (Prem, Dec 13)
- Chelsea 2-0 Swans (Prem, Apr 13)
- Swans 0-0 Chelsea (LC, Jan 13)
- Chelsea 0-2 Swans (LC, Jan 13)
- Swans 1-1 Chelsea (Prem, Nov 12)
Monk has been given no reassurances about this future since he took charge of Swansea in February following the sacking of Michael Laudrup. But he says that’s not important – the only thing that matters is keeping the team in the top flight. “Whatever happens with me, happens with me, I don't care about that,” he said. “I just want the team to do well and get us safe as soon as possible and then push on from there and whatever will be, will be. I'm doing it to the best I can and I'll make sure these players do it to the best they can. They'll know about it and I'll make sure we'll get a reaction in the next game.”
Meanwhile, Mourinho has been getting fined £8,000 for getting sent to the stands at Aston Villa. As far as he’s concerned the Premier League table is false and he’s not happy that teams involved in the title race and the fight against the drop have games in hand heading into the final few weeks of the season.
“The situation is the same. The table is fake. The table is again with lots of matches in hand,” he said. “To play matches in hand in the last week of the season, I don't think is adapted to this top football country. You look to the top part of the table and, some teams, they have more matches than others.”
Facts and figures
- Chelsea have not conceded a first-half goal in their last 14 matches.
- 6 of Chelsea’s last 8 away matches have been goalless at half-time and 6 have had fewer than 3 goals at full-time.
- Chelsea have conceded first in half of their last 16 trips to bottom-half teams.
- Swansea’s last 5 home matches against top-six teams have had more goals in the second half than the first.
Chelsea to grind out another victory. 2-0 to the Blues.