Antonio Conte’s Chelsea will be looking to keep their excellent domestic form going as they welcome a struggling Swansea side to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening. The Blues have picked up 13 points from a possible 15 in their last five league matches and are currently looking up the table towards the Manchester clubs – rather than down to the Champions League chasing bunch below them.
For the first time during his tenure, Antonio Conte has been very flexible in his tactical approach over the past two games. Conte opted to play without a recognised striker to good effect at FK Qarabag in the Champions League whilst against Liverpool on Saturday, he instead went for a 5-3-1-1 formation that really nullified the reds. Swansea aren’t expected to pose anywhere near as many problems as Liverpool, which could encourage the Italian to return to his favoured 3-4-3 formation – giving the team width as well as increased attacking options.
Thibaut Courtois put in a solid performance at Anfield and the Belgian continues look assured between the sticks. Victor Moses is fit again, making the bench at Anfield and he will be in direct competition with Davide Zappacosta at right wing-back whilst Marcos Alonso will be required to provide valuable width in his wing-back role.
David Luiz was omitted against Liverpool but should fit back into the squad here, where he could be flanked by the in-form duo of Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen. With Antonio Rudiger and Gary Cahill also jostling for a slot in the side, it’s currently a very strong area for the Blues in terms of squad depth.
Cesc Fabregas missed out against Liverpool but his creative influence could be called upon here against Swansea. N’Golo Kante should also get the nod in midfield – with Conte potentially looking to open up the field by playing another forward player – meaning Tiemoue Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater could both miss out.
Eden Hazard’s form in recent weeks has made him one of the first names on the team sheet, whilst Alvaro Morata was lively at Anfield and has adapted to Premier League life very quickly.
Willian has scored three goals in his last two matches and the Brazilian has had to be patient under Conte but looks to have warranted a starting place and he will be needed with a congested festive period of football coming up.
Predicted Starting XI
Paul Clement is sure to get a good reception from the Chelsea fans for his successful period as assistant manager at Stamford Bridge – but that’s where the hospitality will end. Chelsea will look to take the game to the Swans – who have only managed seven league goals this season. With Swansea without Tammy Abraham – the Chelsea loanee who is ineligible for this game – the Blues should see plenty of the ball and should be able to make it pay in key areas.
Swansea will look to be resilient and frustrate the Blues but Chelsea are in great form in the league and need to win these types of games comfortably to have any chance of competing in the title race during the second half of the season.
Chelsea 3 – 0 Swansea City