Swansea come into their match at home to Chelsea on Saturday (3pm GMT) in good spirits after knocking ex-manager Brendan Rogers’ Liverpool out of the Capital One Cup in midweek.
The Swans triumphed 3-1 at Anfield on Wednesday to progress to the quarter finals, where a winnable match at home to Middlesborough gives them an excellent chance of getting through to the final four.
They are currently 11th in the Premier League with three wins, two draws and four defeats to their name. It has been a solid start for new manager Michael Laudrup, who has watched the euphoria of back-to-back victories in the club’s opening two matches give way to one win in the subsequent seven fixtures.
Swansea finished 11th in their debut Premier League season last term and considering Laudrup had to contend with the summer departures of Joe Allen, Glyfi Sigurdsson and Scott Sinclair, three of the key components of that impressive debut campaign, the club’s similar placing at this stage of the current season represents a decent return.
Laudrup’s new signings have bedded in well so far, with Ki Sung-Yueng and Jonathan de Guzman neat and inventive in central midfield, and the former Rayo Vallecano man Michu scoring six times in his nine league appearances to date. Pablo Hernandez, the most expensively procured, is still finding his feet, but did score the winning goal in a 2-1 defeat of Wigan in Swansea’s last home match.
Swansea played very well in their loss away to Manchester City last weekend, holding 54% of possession and managing more shots on target that the reigning Premier League champions. They should really have been a goal or two to the good before Carlos Tevez provided the moment of ingenuity that proved to be the difference between the two sides.
Michel Vorm’s desperate attempt to keep out Tevez’s shot saw the inspirational Dutch goalkeeper sustain a groin injury that will keep him out of action until Christmas. Experienced German goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel performed competently against Liverpool on Wednesday, but it is clear Vorm’s heroics will be missed.
Tremmel will have to be at his best if he hopes to deny a Chelsea side who have scored 21 times in their nine league matches to date, failing to score on just one occasion. They, too, were involved in Capital One Cup action in midweek, keenly displaying their offensive potency in a 5-4 extra-time victory over Manchester United.
The same opponents inflicted Chelsea’s first Premier League defeat of the season last weekend in a match marred by controversy. Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres were sent off, United’s offside winner was incorrectly allowed to stand and referee Mark Clattenberg was alleged to have made comments of an offensive nature towards some of the Chelsea players.
It was these incidents that received primary billing post-match, but it was the manner in which United burst out of the traps into a quick 2-0 lead that will surely have been of more concern to Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo.
As in the 2-1 Champions League defeat to Shakhtar Donestk just a few days earlier, Chelsea were exposed in transition, their opponents able to easily create scoring chances with swift attacks down the flanks.
Chelsea this season are undeniably a more attractive outfit than they were last season, the resplendent attacking midfield trio of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar capable of conjuring brilliance sufficient to unlock most defences. But for all their movement and inventive interplay in the final third, they offer little protection to the full-backs when moves break down.
Swansea are the sort of side who possess the necessary pace on the flanks and creativity in midfield to take advantage of this deficiency in Chelsea’s set-up, but against all but the top level of teams Chelsea should have enough attacking talent on their side to ensure any deficits are overturned by the time the final whistle blows.
Torres returns from suspension for Saturday’s match, but Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry are both still serving bans. Frank Lampard is a long-term injury layoff, Ashley Cole is doubtful, while Chelsea will assess the fitness of the likes of Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Juan Mata, all of whom played the entire 120 minutes against United on Wednesday.
Swansea v Chelsea Betting Tips Verdict
There have been three or more goals in each of Swansea’s last five home matches and in Chelsea’s last four league matches at all venues. This is therefore likely to be an open match, with both sides capable of creating chances.
Chelsea, though, have more of a killer touch in the final third and despite suspensions and injury doubts have enough quality to return to winning ways following last weekend’s disappointment.