Chelsea head to the Liberty Stadium on Saturday with little to play for, but they’ll be hoping to continue their strong away form. Guus Hiddink has enjoyed more joy away from home than at Stamford Bridge in his second spell. Right now, the team are on the longest unbeaten run of any side in the top flight, can Swansea find a way to end that?
There is an outside chance of the Blues landing Europa League football for next season. They’re 10th, so they’re a few places off as things stand. But, with only three points separating them and seventh, there is a chance. First they’d need one of the top six, either West Ham or Man United, to win the cup. On top of that, the Blues need a huge run of form, and results going their way.
But, given that the Blues have already tied up dates in the US during pre-season, it’s likely that an early Europa League start isn’t what they want in any case. There’s probably more money to be made from a few pre-season games in America than in a run to the final of Europe’s second competition.
The upside of that is Hiddink is now free to play his younger players and those who are on the fringe of the squad. Had the board been desperate for European football, it’s likely we’d see the first 11 featuring from here on in. That’s opened places up for people who could be at the Bridge for years, and hopefully they can impress in the final few weeks of this woeful campaign.
Matt Miazga and Alexandre Pato were both given appearances at Villa Park last weekend, and they both impressed. They’ve arguably earnt another week in the team, while Kenedy will hopefully get another shot. The Brazilian had to come off at half time last weekend after travelling back from his home country for internationals.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is another who deserves more game time, after he scored against Villa last weekend. Given a run in a more advanced position, he showed a lot of potential. If he can repeat that kind of performance against a Swansea side who press the ball and defend well, then he’s on the right track.
This Swans side have put together a good run on their way to securing safety, and they’ll be looking to finish strongly. The Blues won 5-0 at the Liberty last season, but this fixture has usually been a lot tougher than that. The Welsh outfit will surely be a difficult obstacle for Hiddink’s men this weekend.
While a winning run is exactly what the “higher ups” at the club want, they’ll still be pretty happy. Following Antonio Conte’s appointment, they’ll be hoping for this squad to build up some momentum ahead of a massive season next time around. We’re backing the team to get another good result here, edging them a little closer to the top sides.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1