EPL Matchday 10: Swansea City v Chelsea Preview
League leaders Chelsea suffered somewhat of a setback after consecutive losses to Shaktar Donetsk and Manchester United in a span of 5 days. But they came up trumps in the Capital One Cup against Ferguson and Co., showing great character in one of those emphatic Cup nights. The win will surely have boosted the team up after their unfortunate loss on Sunday. A trip to the Liberty Stadium presents a daunting proposition to any team and the Blues are no exception. Swansea City under Laudrup have had a mixed start to their campaign, nevertheless they have the quality and theory to come up top against any premier league opposition.
Swansea will be starting a match without the services of their goalkeeper Vorm, and Gerhard Tremmel deputizes for him. Their Cup win over Liverpool speaks volumes of their ability to carve open defensive fatalities of their opponents. Laudrup fielded a strong team in midweek and most of them are sure to start on Saturday.
Chico Flores suffered a thigh injury against Liverpool but should recover by weekend. Neil Taylor is still out with injury which means Davies will start at leftback. Britton, Ki Sung Yeung and De Guzman in the midfield look to be an interesting proposition. Wayne Routledge and Pablo Hernandez will embrace the Swan wings with Michu completing the lineup as the lone striker. Dyer, Graham and Moore provide options on the bench for Laudrup.
Juan Mata and David Luiz will mostly be sitting out of Saturday’s clash after suffering hamstring and ankle injuries. Frank Lampard is still recovering from his knee injury. John Terry will be serving his last match of the four match suspension. Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic return after serving their suspensions. After 120 minutes of frantic football in the midweek, Di Matteo will be careful in choosing his lineup keeping the Champions League fixture against Shaktar on Wednesday in mind.
The absence of Luiz means Ivanovic moves into center to pair with Cahill and Ashley Cole returns after nursing an ankle complaint. Cesar Azpilicueta will be handed his first league start from right-back. With no Mata in the attacking band, expect either of Sturridge, Marin or Moses to start on one wing. Di Matteo might even start Ryan Bertrand as a defensive winger.
Probable Team Lineups
Swansea City (4-3-3): Tremmel – Chico, Davies, Williams, Rangel – Britton, DeGuzman, Sung Yeung – Hernandez, Routledge, Michu
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech – Cole, Cahill, Ivanovic, Azpilicueta – Ramires, Mikel – Oscar, Hazard, Moses – Torres
Michael Laudrup has infused his ideals into the football theory of Swansea. His new signings have helped fill into the boots of Allen and Sigurdsson who left the club in summer; Michu especially has been very impressive. His constant movement unsettles the opposition backline and his knack for goals means, he needs to be pushed far away from the goal. Michu drops very deep and holds up the ball to initiate the attack through the wings. Either of Mikel or Ramires should be marking him closely.
The main battle though will be in the midfield. Britton will provide cover for his defense and dictate from deep positions; Oscar again gets the job of containing a deep-lying player. De Guzman is energetic and has the eye for that killer pass. His set pieces are also a danger. Sung Yeung is a calm and composed passer of the ball. His link up play with the wings and Michu is likely to result in a positive end product. With Mikel and Ramires in the mid, this will be a straight up battle for dominance in the center of the park.
The duo of Mikel and Ramires might have got positive comments from many corners. But I remain critical of this pairing as they leave behind too much space for opponents to run into. The slow movement of Mikel means he needs to stay deep and only Ramires should venture forward.
The wingers of Swansea are extremely talented. Pablo for the obvious reasons and Routledge has the pace and agility to skip past players. They will be the key to open up the play and provide killer passes. Cole and Azpilicueta will have to see out his threat with added help from their wingers. Azpilicueta is known for his attacking threat but his defensive side needs some furnishing. Torres will be looking to take on the Swansea defensive working the channels and interchanging swift passes with Hazard and Oscar.
Whoever starts on the opposite wing alongside Oscar and Hazard will surely play a huge part in Chelsea’s play. The system has been revolving and evolving around “MaZaCar”, taking one of them out would change the tactics. Marin would be a like swap for Mata, Moses would provide physicality and defensive cover and Sturridge is used to this position.
The PIE Prediction
It will be an open game with some fantastic passing and interesting tactical battles. Explosive wingers in both teams and adept technical players will result in a good contest overall. PIE predicts a Chelsea 3-1 win.
Telecast (India): ESPN at 2030 hrs Twitter: #SWACHE, @therationalpie