After a somewhat disappointing outing at the Emirates against a very average Arsenal side, Chelsea have the chance to fulfill our collective Christmas wishes and bounce back against Swansea City. Boxing Day fixtures are part of English football tradition, which means that we've institutionalised depriving some of the most-loved (and most-hated) people in the country of spending Christmas with their family because they have to train for a match the next day. Isn't that nice?
Anyway, Swansea. They're an interesting team -- they always seem to be billed as something they're not. In their first year up, they were dubbed as the Welsh Barcelona despite having the creative powers of a concussed pidgeon, in their second we were told that we should be seriously considering Michu as one of the most dangerous players in the league.
Disentangling fact from fiction isn't easy with the Swans, but suffice to say that they keep the ball reasonably well and don't tend to leave space in the defence when they go forward. On a good day, that is. The toils of a European campaign have left our gets struggling to stay healthy, which has led to some rather inconsistent play this year.
Coming off a 2-1 loss at home against Everton, we really shouldn't be expecting Swansea to put up much of a fight at Stamford Bridge, and if they were going to any other top side we'd be writing them off immediately. But this is Chelsea, and nothing's ever easy for us, is it?
Date/Time: Thursday, December 26, 2013, 3:00 pm GMT; 10 am EST; 8:30 pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London.
Forecast: Surprisingly un-miserable.
On TV: none (UK);
NBC Sports Network Premier League Extra Time (USA); Star Sports 4 (India).
Online: NBC Live Extra (USA).
Chelsea team news: As far as I can tell, there isn't any. Marco van Ginkel hasn't had his anterior cruciate ligament stitched together in some kind of Christmas miracle, and Ryan Bertrand's not back from whatever injury he's supposed to have sustained recently, and despite Mike Dean attempting to have both sets of players murder each other at the Emirates on Monday, we have no additions to the injured list. So that's good. Michael Essien will return from suspension after serving one match out for yellow card accumulation.
That said, this match will be played on short rest, so expect some of the players who sat out against Arsenal -- notably Juan Mata, Oscar and David Luiz -- to get starts this time around.
Swansea team news: Michael Laudrup hasn't had the best of luck with injuries, and it turns out that he'll be without Michu for the next six weeks with an ankle problem. He's also missing goalkeeper Michel Vorm, which means that Chelsea's strikers will have even fewer excuses for not scoring when they don't score.