Here’s a stat that should make you do a double-take: Swansea City have won more points so far in 2017 than Chelsea. Both teams have played six matches, but while Chelsea have lost only once, the 2-0 away to Spurs at the start of the calendar year, the back-to-back away draws at Liverpool and Burnley have sapped the points total as draws often tend to do.
Meanwhile, Swans have four wins from six, including one at Anfield over Liverpool. They have more wins in the six weeks under Clement than they had in the six months under Guidolin and Bradley. Clement, and his assistant coach Claude Makélélé deserve all the plaudits they can get, especially as we were recently reminded of just how dispensable head coaches can be with the sacking of Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City.
There is no room for sentiment in modern football, and there certainly won’t be any today either. A win for Chelsea would make it a dozen home wins in a row in all competitions, and would increase the gap at the top of the league, at least temporarily, to double digits.
Date / Time: Saturday, February 25, 2017, 15:00 GMT; 10am EST; 8:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Neil Swarbrick — we saw Mr. Swarbrick just last month as Chelsea beat Hull City 2-0.
Forecast: Cloudy but dry and mild.
On TV: none (UK); NBCSN, NBC Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD2 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Universo Now (USA); Hotstar (India); BBC Radio 5 Live (UK radio); Chelsea TV (int’l radio)
Chelsea team news: Other than a few bruises and “managed” injuries like David Luiz’s knee, Chelsea have a clean bill of health and everyone should be available. That will likely mean the usual 3-4-3 setup that we’ve come to know and love, though there’s perhaps a chance that Cesc Fàbregas gets the nod over Nemanja Matić in the center of midfield.
Chelsea head into the weekend with an 8-point lead over Manchester City (whose match against Manchester United has been postponed due to United playing in the League Cup final on Sunday) and a 10-point lead over Tottenham (who don’t play until Sunday). With Arsenal’s match also postponed, Chelsea have a great chance to not only increase the lead in the actual table, but in terms of the psychology of the situation as well.
Swansea City team news: Clement has settled on a fairly strong starting eleven, spearheaded by former Juventus striker Fernando Llorente, who was strongly linked to a move to Chelsea and a reunion with head coach Antonio Conte, and the ever-dangerous Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Swans remain statistically the worst defense in the league, with 54 goals conceded for the season, but other than giving up four to Arsenal, Clement’s men have been conceding just one goal per league game, on average.
Previously: Diego Costa loves playing against Swansea City and after the brace in the 2-2 draw at the start of the season, has 7 goals against them in his career, including this overhead gem.