LONDON, Sporting Alert – Champions Chelsea go in search of a victory when they take on Swansea City at Stamford Bridge in the late Premier League kick-off on Saturday.
The Blues dominated the table standings last season – finishing eight points clear of Manchester City and the experts believe if Jose Mourinho’s men can stay fit then it will be difficult for anyone to match them again this season.
Referee: Michael Oliver Assistants: M Mullarkey, H Lennard Fourth Official: P Tierney
There are some doubts over whether striker Diego Costa will be fit enough to feature in the opener after sustaining a hamstring injury in preseason and missed the Community Shield defeat against Arsenal last Sunday.
Mourinho said Costa will practice with the rest of the squad on Friday and then he will decide on whether the Spanish forward will feature.
The Portuguese coach added that if Costa was unable to play then Loic Remy or Radamel Falcao would start the game.
But Remy and Falcao weren’t too impressive against Arsenal in the Community Shield defeat last week and Mourinho may have some problems in the attacking position if his leading attacker is unable to recover in time.
The Blues have failed to secure a win during preseason and finished the campaign with a 1-0 defeat against Fiorentina in midweek.
Mourinho, although disappointed with the defeats, revealed that he is satisfied with the way things went during preseason, stating the “real football” begins this weekend in his club’s Premier League title defense.
“The real football starts tomorrow, I think everybody’s waiting for it,” Mourinho said during his press conference.
Swansea City Looking Ahead
Swansea City finished eighth in the league last year after winning 18 games and collected 56 points – four points short of making it into Europe and manager Garry Monk is confident his side is ready to battle with the big boys again.
In their season opener last year, Swansea stunned Manchester United 2-1 at Old Trafford on their way to winning three straight to start the campaign.
That run, however, was snapped by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, as the two Premier League meetings between these two sides produced 11 goals – nine in which belonged to the Blues.
Chelsea picked up a 4-2 win at home in the first meeting to end the Swans run, before Monk’s side was also hammered 5-0 at Liberty Stadium in the return fixture.
Some of the players to watch for Swansea City are: Ashley Williams, Andre Ayew, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jack Cork, Jefferson Montero, Łukasz Fabiański and Jonjo Shelvey.
At the same time, the likes of Eden Hazard, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Nemanja Matic, Oscar, Cesc Fàbregas, Thibaut Courtois and Branislav Ivanovic, are some of the Chelsea players who will need to be closely watched in this fixture.
Despite failing to get past Arsenal in the Community Shield and dropping its final warmup contest, Terry, though admitting to being disappointed – noted that the main focus is now on beating Swansea City.
“The most important thing now is the Swansea game and the three points,” the Chelsea captain said.