Swansea host Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium this evening, with their game set to kick off at 5:30pm. Swansea are 17th in the table, while Chelsea are fifth.
Swansea are three points clear of the relegation zone, but they could see that gap cut to just one point if Southampton manage to beat Bournemouth. They have the Saints and Stoke breathing down their neck, and could really do with picking some points up today. It’s going to be a tricky game today, made even trickier because their form hasn’t been great lately. They’ve gone five games without a win, and have picked up just three points from those. After it looked like they would climb to safety under Carlos Carvalhal, they have dropped back into trouble again.
Their home form has been quite good though, and they’re unbeaten at the Liberty Stadium in their last five games. They have won four of those as well, beating Liverpool, Arsenal, Burnley and West Ham, while they drew with Everton. They’ll be hoping to keep that run – that stretches all the way back to January 22 – going today. They’re more than capable of doing that, as they have been very impressive in some games this season, but it could be difficult against a Chelsea side that is hoping to keep pressure on Liverpool and Spurs in the race for a top four finish.
Swansea travel to Bournemouth next week, and then finish the season with home games against Southampton and Stoke. Survival is in their own hands, but they’ll be hoping to get something from their next two games so there’s less pressure on them in the final two. I think Stoke will already be relegated by the time they play them on the final day, but the game against Southampton could be the one to decide who stays and who goes. The Swans will be hoping to get a couple of positive results in the lead up to that huge game.
Carlos Carvalhal told Swansea’s official website: “The players have experienced this before and when you live through something you must try to learn from it.
“Our players have lived with this pressure to win games in the most important part of the season.
“This is not a bad thing, it’s good. The players know the pressure and also they have had success at this stage before. They are ready.”
He added: “There are some players elsewhere who are used to being in the middle of the table and now they are now in a relegation battle.
“It’s not easy to deal with that when you have not experienced it before.
“But for us it’s positive pressure. We are not in a good position in the table, but we are in a good position in the relegation battle.”
Federico Fernandez and Kyle Bartley are doubts for Swansea, while Luciano Narsingh could also miss out.
After Liverpool could only manage a draw against Stoke in today’s early kick off, Chelsea have been handed a glimmer of hope in the chase for the top four. It’s still extremely unlikely that they’ll manage to catch the Reds or Spurs, but all they can do is keep the pressure on and hope one of them slip up. There’s always a chance of a collapse, so the Blues need to keep winning and see what happens.
They beat Southampton last week to go through to the FA Cup final, and that will have surely helped spirits around their dressing room. They could be back in confident mood after winning their last three games, which all began with a fightback against Southampton when they were 2-0 down and came back to win 3-2. That would have immediately given them a boost, and they followed it up by beating Burnley at Turf Moor and then they had the semi-final win at Wembley. The win at Turf Moor was really impressive because it’s an extremely difficult place to go.
Swansea have made the Liberty Stadium into quite the fortress recently though, so they may not have it all their own way today. They may have to dig deep if they want to win this game against a Swansea side that are fighting for their lives. Chelsea have top quality players, and have individuals that can change a game in a second. Player for player, they’re much stronger than Swansea, but it doesn’t always come down to that on the pitch. They’ll have to be prepared to dig deep and fight just as much as Swansea today or they could be punished.
Antonio Conte said: “We have to try to get three points. It won’t be easy and we are playing against a team fighting against relegation. They are in good form.
“The reality is that Tottenham have a big advantage, five points more than us. The only way to put a bit of pressure on them is to get three points tomorrow. Otherwise it is difficult.”
David Luiz and Ethan Ampadu are still out, but Danny Drinkwater may be fit enough to be involved.
I think this is a tricky one to call to be honest. Usually, you would say Chelsea should win it, but with Swansea down the wrong end of the table they’ll be scrapping for everything today. It could come down to how strong Swansea are defensively, and whether they can keep the likes of Eden Hazard and Willian quiet. They definitely have the potential to get something from this game, but will have to be at their very best.
The team news will be out at 4:30pm, and you’ll get that up here as well. Enjoy the game.