Swansea v Chelsea Preview (Premier League) – 17th January 2014

Chelsea head in to their game at Swansea at the weekend knowing they could go five points clear of second placed Manchester City with a win. The Blues opened up a two point gap last weekend, and with City not in action until Sunday, they have the chance to extend that gap even further.

The Blues take a fully fit squad into this game, so expect another full strength line up from Jose Mourinho. The only possible thing that could get in the way of that would be the trip to Liverpool in the Capital One Cup in midweek, but it’s likely that Mourinho will prioritise the league ahead of that game.

You may remember that these two sides had a top of the table clash earlier in the season, when Swansea came to Stamford Bridge with a 100% league record in early September. The game was far from easy for Chelsea, who had a 100% record themselves. The Swans lead for most of the first half through a John Terry own goal. Diego Costa got the home side ahead with a hat trick, before Loic Remy added a fourth. Jonjo Shelvey scored a consolation goal late on.

The Swans have dipped since then, but they still sit ninth in the table. They’ve beaten Arsenal at home already this season, so expect them to pose a threat to the Blues here. Midfielder Nemanja Matic’s comments this week left no one in doubt that the team are taking Swansea seriously.

“Swansea are very difficult to play against,” he said. “They have many good players and it’s always very hard to play against them. We expect a hard game there, we know they have a lot of quality. We will try to play our game in the best way and have to use our quality. It’s going to be difficult for sure. Before the game you never know what is going to happen.”

It will be a game where Chelsea are without possession for periods, given how well their opponents keep the ball. That has to be their main strength, so Matic’s ability to break up play in the middle of the park will be pivotal. If he has a repeat of the shocker at White Hart Lane, it’s hard to see Mourinho’s men returning with much. It just goes to show how important the Serbian has become since joining a year ago.

A difficult match is expected here, but Spurs came to the Liberty Stadium a few weeks ago and took all three points after really imposing themselves on the game. That might be how the Blues approach this one, with John Obi Mikel maybe joining Matic in midfield, with Fabregas pushed higher up. Thy know they face two big away games in the next couple of days, and those games could decide if Mourinho and Chelsea will face another trophy-less season or not.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1