Sun 13 Apr 2014 16:07 (Attendance: 20,761)
After two home victories it is back on the road again for the Blues. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton prepare for a Sunday in South Wales...
From a euphoric 'One Step Beyond' at the Bridge to an invigorating 'White Riot' at the Liberty in a matter of days. Some Chelsea supporters will be feeling very nostalgic for the late-Seventies at the moment (though more the music than the football).
The Blues' pursuit of two massive trophies remains alive and this tough trip to South Wales will be a sore test of team resolve after the disappointment of Crystal Palace away two weeks ago. Chelsea have lost our last three away games and four of the last six, succeeding only at Fulham.
The Swans have not made a habit of winning over the course of the season but the two convincing victories under Garry Monk since February have come judiciously, at home in 'six-pointers' against local rivals Cardiff and against Norwich City, both a few rungs below them in battle to stay up.
They also earned a creditable draw at Arsenal, but that was in the aftermath of our 6-0 thrashing of the Gunners. Narrow defeat at Hull last weekend left the Welsh side 15th in the table, six points clear of the drop zone, and with reassuring games against becalmed mid-table sides Newcastle and Southampton to come.
That was a performance played out in cold blood. For only the second time in 111 games, PSG were beaten by two goals.
After the widespread criticism of the Blues' strikers it was amusing to note the winner involved contributions from all three strikers as well as the imperturbable Cesar Azpilicueta.
It would never win a beauty contest but this was a goal never to be forgotten by the shooter, Demba Ba, his teammates or supporters.
'My… ,' exclaimed Sky Sports summariser Niall Quinn at the incredible crowd response, 'I've never heard a roar like it.'
When Chelsea reached the semi-finals of the elite club competition on Tuesday it was for the seventh time in 11 seasons. Two of the previous six occasions have been a stepping stone to the final itself.
Only two English clubs have reached the penultimate phase of this competition more times: Manchester United (12) and Liverpool (nine). After the Blues, the next best performers are Leeds with three appearances; Arsenal have only made it thus far twice.
The draw to decide who Chelsea must face in the last four of the Champions League will produce either a return to the Allianz Arena or, statistically twice as likely, a trip to Madrid. Bayern, Atletico and Real all conjure recent memories for Chelsea or our manager.
The tight Premier League schedule will also have to change again following the progress in Europe. The first legs will take place on 22/23 April, with the second legs on 29/30 April.
One of those games will fall on a Tuesday, allowing too little recovery time after either Sunderland at home or Liverpool away, both currently slated for live TV coverage on a Sunday.
All matches in the top five leagues in England kick off seven minutes late this weekend to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. Anyone who attended football a quarter of a century ago will recognise that the victims that day could have come from any club with mass following, of which Chelsea were one.
The Blues were playing a Division Two match at Leicester City as news of the tragedy first reached portable radios on the terraces. A few years earlier a 25,000 attendance at Filbert Street had produced crushing that led supporters to spill onto the pitch. In ensuing years most clubs, including Chelsea, had added perimeter fences, blocking that escape route.
Caging facilities and primitive crowd management strategies regularly produced crushes for away fans, not least at Hillsborough. We commemorate the 96 who died at Hillsborough and the same could easily have happened to friends, relations or ourselves.
Our rivals to the Premier League title, Liverpool and Manchester City, square up a few hours before the Swansea-Chelsea game. A draw might be the best result for the Blues, meaning that three points taken from the Liberty would place us level on points with the Anfield side and four points clear of the Citizens, who will have two games in hand.
Should Everton win at Sunderland, FA Cup semi-finalists Arsenal will slip to fifth ahead of their home derby with West Ham on Tuesday.
The race for the Premier League Golden Boot
Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 29
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) 20
Yaya Toure (Man City) 18
Sergio Aguero (Man City) 15
Jay Rodriguez (Southampton) 15
Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) 15
The race for the Premier League Golden Glove
Petr Cech 15
Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal) 13
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) 12
Tim Howard (Everton) 12
David De Gea (Man Utd) 11
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Crystal Palace v Aston Villa 3.07pm
Fulham v Norwich 3.07pm
Southampton v Cardiff 3.07pm
Stoke v Newcastle 3.07pm
Sunderland v Everton 3.07pm
West Brom v Tottenham 3.07pm
Liverpool v Manchester City 1.37pm - Sky Sports
Swansea v Chelsea 4.07pm - Sky Sports
Arsenal v West Ham 7.45pm - Sky Sports
Everton v Crystal Palace 7.45pm
Manchester City v Sunderland 7.45pm
|Barclays Premier League table - top seven|
|The Premier League run in|
|Sun 13 Apr||Swansea (a)||Man City (h)||Liverpool (a)|
|Wed 16 Apr||Sunderland (h)|
|Sun 20 Apr||Sunderland (h)||Norwich (a)|
|Mon 21 Apr||West Brom (h)|
|Sun 27 Apr||Liverpool (a)||Chelsea (h)||C Palace (a)|
|Sat 3 May||Norwich (h)||C Palace (a)||Everton (a)|
|Wed 7 May||Aston Villa (h)|
|Sun 11 May||Cardiff (a)||Newcastle (h)||West Ham (h)|
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
Eden Hazard is ruled out through injury but fellow midfielders Ramires, Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah return after suspension or ineligibility from the midweek exertions against Paris Saint-Germain and may well all feature. The Egyptian flyer has notched two goals and two assists in the last three appearances.
Sammy Eto'o, available but less exuberant than usual on Tuesday, has had more time to recover. Equally, since Swansea are weaker than many teams in the air, goalscoring hero Demba Ba and Fernando Torres might be more pragmatic choices. The key man in the home side's defence is Ashley Williams and he relishes a physical battle.
The Swans' game is built on possession and they are in the top five on that statistic, despite lying 15th in the table. Chelsea have often pressed high up the field this season against teams who like to play from the back and that could well be a factor this weekend.
Garry Monk sets his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation that becomes a 2-4-4 when they have the ball in the opposition half. The Blues will aim to counter quickly and exploit the gaps either side of their central defenders.
Only Crystal Palace and Sunderland have a worse record of recovering points after going behind than the Swans. They are most vulnerable to conceding in the first 20 minutes of the second half, with 20 of the 49 goals against coming in that period.
Chelsea's danger zone is the final 15 minutes, accounting for a quarter of our opponents' 24 league strikes. That is when John Terry, so focused and experienced alongside the ever-improving Gary Cahill, can be so valuable as a central defender and leader.
Like Chelsea's, the hosts' midfield have contributed more significantly than their strikers to the combined goals and assists columns. Leading scorer Hazard will be badly missed. With tired legs at this stage of the season his ability to conjure something out of nothing could have been priceless.
The Belgian scored the only goal of the game when our two sides met in a tight Boxing Day match at the Bridge. Fernando Torres is the only Chelsea striker to have scored on the road this season. Andre Schurrle's opener on Tuesday made it five goals in his last 10 matches and was his first as a substitute.
While Wilfried Bony weighs in with 12 goals for Swansea. Central attacking midfielder Pablo Hernandez is their top creator, always looking for gaps in defence through which to run or place a pass to the Ivorian or widemen such as Wayne Routledge, Jonathan de Guzman or Nathan Dyer, and he is happy to drop deep to do so. De Guzman (pictured below) is always keen to fire in a searching cross from the right.
Michu is returning to sharpness after a long lay-off and has recently usurped Hernandez as Monk looks for more of a goal threat.
Tellingly, eight of Swansea's 45 Premier League goals have come from opponents putting into their own net - almost a quarter of the total in the top flight this season of 34.
The Swans will have their work cut out though: Chelsea have the tightest defence in the top flight and Petr Cech has kept 15 clean sheets in the Premier League this season.
WE HAVE HISTORY
This will be only our third visit to Swansea in over 30 years. The last two seasons' draws were our first league matches at the Liberty Stadium as all our previous games were at Vetch Field. We also drew 0-0 in last season's Capital One Cup semi-final.
In fact this corner of Wales has rarely been a happy hunting ground for the Blues. Our first win, at the fourth attempt after one defeat and two draws, came after Jimmy Thompson, later a wonderful scout of youth talent, scored the only goal of the game. That was on 29 December 1928, during a Second Division season in which injury-hit Thompson netted eight times in eight league outings.
Our biggest win there came 55 years later in November 1983. Riding high under John Neal, again in Division Two, Chelsea agreed to the Swans' request to bring the game foreword in order to bank the gate money and ease their cash-flow problems.
That is where the Londoners' charity ended, however.
The reporter from the Daily Express suggested Chelsea's powerful first-half display was 'as good as anything Vetch Field fans had seen'. The Blues' dominance was rooted in pace, verve and quality, with John Bumstead at his peak in midfield, Peter Rhoades-Brown attacking from the flanks and Pat Nevin and Kerry Dixon causing mayhem in the final third.
Bumstead opened the scoring with a neat chip from the edge of the box after just seven minutes. Nevin added a second with a quarter of an hour gone. Colin Pascoe pulled one back for the hosts against the run of play, but just before the break a typically powerful solo effort from Dixon, his 10th league strike of the season, completed the 3-1 scoreline inside the opening 45 minutes. The Swans were eventually relegated for the second successive season.
Swansea's last home win against the Blues was in April 1981 when goals from Robbie James, Neil Robinson and Dzemal Hadziabdic without reply were enough to secure the victory.
Last 10 meetings at Swansea
1926/27 - Swansea won 2-1 - Old Division Two
1927/28 - Drew 0-0 - Old Division Two
1928/29 - Chelsea won 1-0 - Old Division Two
1929/30 - Swansea won 3-0 - Old Division Two
1962/63 - Swansea won 2-0 - Old Division Two
1979/80 - Drew 1-1 - Old Division Two
1980/81 - Swansea won 3-0 - Old Division Two
1983/84 - Chelsea won 3-1 - Old Division Two
2011/12 - Drew 1-1 - Premier League
2012/13 - Drew 1-1 - Premier League
The reverse fixture this season
26 December 2013 Barclays Premier League
Chelsea v Swansea City in all competitions
Games played 26
Chelsea wins 11
Swansea wins 6
Head to head in the League at Swansea
Games played 11
Chelsea wins 2
Swansea wins 4
Biggest league win at Swansea for each team
Swansea 3-0 Chelsea - 12/04/1930 and 25/04/1981
Swansea 1-3 Chelsea - 22/11/1983
Chelsea won at Swansea: 11,100
Swansea beat Chelsea at home: 12,041
Arsenal won a trophy: 3,249
Liverpool won the league: 8,744
Chelsea have the best defence in the Barclays Premier League conceding only 24 goals in 33 games, including 15 clean sheets.
Eight of our 14 Premier League games in 2014 have been goalless at half time.
Chelsea have won 13 and drawn two of the 15 games we have been ahead at half time.
We have only lost seven points from winning positions this term.
The Blues have won 18 and drawn two of the 21 league games when we have scored the opening goal. Stoke away was the only time we lost after taking the lead.
The Blues are eight points up compared to the corresponding 33 fixtures last season.
In 2014 we have kept 13 clean sheets and conceded just 11 goals in 21 games in all competitions.
We have won 25 points from a possible 48 away from Stamford Bridge this term.
|Last six results|
|Galatasaray (Champions League h)||W 2-0|
|Mar 22||Arsenal (h)||W 6-0|
|Mar 29||Crystal Palace (a)||L 0-1|
|Apr 2||PSG (Champions League a)||L 1-3|
|Apr 5||Stoke (h)||W 3-0|
|Apr 8||Paris Saint-Germain (Champions League h)||W 2-0|
League games since
An away win: 2
An away draw: 3
An away defeat: 0
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Sat 19 Apr||Sunderland home||5.30pm|
|Tue 22 Apr||Atletico Madrid Champions League semi-final first leg away||7.45pm|
|Sun 27 Apr||Liverpool away||2.05pm|
1 League Cup in 2013
2 Football League trophies, last in 2006
10 Welsh Cups, last in 1991
In March 1978, a 28-year-old John Toshack became the youngest manager in the Football League and took the Swans from the Fourth Division to the First in four seasons. They achieved their highest ever finish, sixth, in 1981/82 but were relegated the following season and in another four years were back in the Division Four.
Swansea achieved a similar rise in fortunes after promotion from League Two (fourth flight) in 2004/05 and arriving in the Premier League via the Championship play-offs in May 2011.
Garry Monk's side have won only one of their last eight Premier League games. Only Cardiff and Sunderland have won fewer points than Swansea's six in that period.
The Swans have scored at least one goal in all but one of their home league games. Only West Ham, in October, have kept a clean sheet at the Liberty Stadium this term.
At Liberty Stadium, Swansea have won 20 points from a possible 48. They have won five at home against Sunderland, Newcastle, Fulham, Cardiff and Norwich, five draws with Liverpool, West Ham, Stoke, Hull and Crystal Palace and six defeats against Man Utd, Arsenal, Everton, Man City, Tottenham and West Brom.
Manager Garry Monk
Days in charge: 68
|Swansea's last 10 year league history|
|2003/04||59||10th||League Division Three||4|
|Last six results|
|Crystal Palace (h)||D 1-1|
|Mar 15||West Brom (h)||L 1-2|
|Mar 22||Everton (a)||L 2-3|
|Mar 25||Arsenal (a)||D 2-2|
|Mar 29||Norwich (h)||W 3-0|
|Apr 5||Hull (a)||L 0-1|
Premier League scorers (45)
Bony 11 (2 pens), own goals 8, Dyer 5, Shelvey 5, De Guzman 4, Chico 2, Davies 2, Lamah 2, Michu 2, Routledge 2, Hernandez 1, Williams 1.
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 2
A home defeat: 1
Swansea's major completed January transfers and Spring loans
Ins David Ngog (Bolton Wanderers, undisclosed), Raheem Hanley (Blackburn Rovers, (undisclosed), Jay Fulton (Falkirk, undisclosed), Marvin Emnes (Middlesbrough, loan)
Outs Daniel Alfei (Portsmouth, loan), Alan Tate (Aberdeen, loan)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Phil Dowd is refereeing his first Chelsea game since our FA Cup defeat to Manchester City in February. His other three this season were the victories at home to Manchester United in January, Sunderland away in the league and Arsenal at the Emirates in the Capital One Cup.
There are no suspensions.
Sunday is the last day on which a 10th yellow card will result in a suspension. Ramires has nine domestic yellow cards and will be suspended for two games if he is booked at Swansea.
Visit again tomorrow for Part Two of the Briefing.
For the second time in a week, Demba Ba is the hero. This time the Senegalese striker started the game and he hit the winner two-thirds of the way through to keep Chelsea title hopes alive and give us our first victory at the Liberty Stadium.
The win came against a Swansea side who played most of the game with 10 men following a red card for defender Chico Flores. A handful of chances were missed by Jose Mourinho's side before the break with those opportunities increasing after tactical changes at the interval.
Thankfully, and although Petr Cech was required to make three good saves, the single strike was enough to secure three important points in South Wales.
Ba retained his place after his momentous late intervention in the Champions League midweek and three players ineligible for that match also returned, Nemanja Matic and Ramires in central midfield and Mohamed Salah who took his place in the attacking midfield trio along with Willian and Andre Schurrle.
The defence was the one fielded ever since the FA Cup defeat at Manchester City two months ago.
Michu was not even on the bench for Swansea so his fellow Spaniard Pablo Hernandez came in as one of two changes from their defeat at Hull last time out. Nathan Dyer replaced Jonathan de Guzman on the right of midfield.
Liverpool's lunchtime win over Man City left Chelsea five points off the top ahead of kick-off but now City were two points behind us with only one game in hand.
Before we set about the job of closing the gap to Brendan Rodgers's team however, a minute's silence took place in memory of the 96 fans who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster 25 years ago. In common with all games this weekend, this match kicked off a symbolic seven minutes later than originally scheduled.
Within seconds of that kick-off, there was pressure on the Chelsea defence but Terry headed away with Wilfried Bony leaping close by. Terry again cleared when a ball behind Azpilicueta allowed Dyer to cross, and then Cech saved from Hernandez. It was a good start by the home side.
On five minutes, Chelsea should have scored. Ivanovic slipped a challenge and exchanged passes with Schurrle before accurately picking out Salah. The Egyptian side-footed wide from 10 yards out. He dragged a more difficult effort wide of the same post soon after.
On 12 minutes, Cech, who had just dealt well with a difficult corner, reacted sharply to tip over a header from Bony from Angel Rangel's cross.
Shortly after Chico Flores rightly earned a booking for impeding Willian who was heading into the Swansea half on the break. The central defender therefore must have known he was walking a tightrope when he brought an end to a flowing Chelsea move forward with a barge into Schurrle wide of the penalty area. As soon as referee Phil Dowd decided it was a foul, he surely had to book the Spaniard and after a little delay, and presumably some words with his assistants, he did so, showing yellow then red cards.
Swansea were a man light with just 16 minutes played, and had to sacrifice Hernandez for Jordi Amat in a defensive reshuffle.
Chelsea weren't quick to capitalise on the man advantage. Willian shot well wide and Matic had an effort blocked but those incidents were well-spaced. Salah over-hit his cross when Willian's clever pass found him in space on the right of the area.
A corner, gifted by Swans captain Ashley Williams, was delivered well by Willian but although the head of Ivanovic met it squarely, he cleared the bar.
As half-time approached, Ramires, back after a European suspension, bundled the ball into the danger zone but it evaded his team-mates and Swansea counter-attacked, Cech saving from Dyer who had been involved in most of the home side's best play. Azpilicueta was finding himself outnumbered more than usual when Swansea attacked down their right.
Schurrle was booked for catching Rangel on the top of the foot, the card greeted with a cheer from the Swansea crowd who had continued to hold our German responsible for the earlier sending off.
Chelsea's first-half chances ended how they had begun, with Salah not taking an opportunity from inside the area, this time after Ba held the ball up and Ramires poked it into the run of the Egyptian.
With Oscar playing somewhere between a no.8 and a no.10 and Eto'o right up front with Ba, it had the desired effect of pushing Swansea back towards their goal.
Williams had to clear a ball from close to his own goal line when Azpilicueta's cross bounced off Oscar, and then with 10 minutes of the half gone, Ba's glancing header from an Ivanovic cross flew a whisker wide.
Three minutes later, Eto'o missed the kind of chance he built his immense reputation snapping up. Initially surprised when Williams knocked a cross into his feet, the Cameroonian fired wide with the goal gapping. Ba hit a shot on the turn at Michel Vorm moments later. Could we continue to be wasteful like this and not pay a price?
Swansea, given their less numbers, were proving annoyingly resilient, with plenty of hard work in midfield. Then they broke through Routledge and it took a deflection off the stretching Terry to prevent the winger's shot seriously testing Cech.
The siege at the other end resumed, but with white shirts in the right place at the right time to frustrate the Blues and balls dropping just the wrong side of posts.
It was ironic that for all the periods of sustained pressure, and for Swansea's parking of the bus, the breakthrough when it came on 67 minutes was counter-attacking at its best. Taking a throw in his own half, Matic wasted no time in spearing a superbly accurate pass up to Ba who was with last defender Williams.
Ba didn't dally. He took his left-foot shot early past Williams, which is maybe why Vorm, even though he did get a touch on it, couldn't prevent it rippling the back of the Swansea net.
Ba should probably have added a second goal 11 minutes later when he was too strong for Amat on the turn but he fired over, his last touch. Mikel came on for the remaining 10 minutes.
The Blues could have done better when Eto'o sent Oscar racing away, but Swansea defended well to keep this game on an edge. Eto'o shot wide first time from a Salah pass.
There was one scare before the end, Cech having to paddle away a Shelvey cross that was bouncing awkwardly and worryingly towards the target.
The contest really should have been ended in the closing minutes but on three occasions inaccuracy inside the penalty area or a run offside brought the Blues to a halt when we had Swansea seriously stretched.
Off the back of the exertions of the PSG game, we had made hard work of these three points at times, but the win that brings to an end our short run of poor results away from home had come with a clean sheet and a good striker's goal.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Ramires (Oscar h/t), Matic; Salah, Willian, Schurrle (Eto'o h/t); Ba (Mikel 78).
Unused subs Schwarzer, Cole, David Luiz, Torres.
Scorer Ba 67.
Booked Schurrle 45, Mikel 85.
Swansea (4-2-3-1): Vorm; Rangel, Chico, Williams (c), Davies; Britton (De Guzman 86), Shelvey; Dyer (Ngog 73), Hernandez (Amat 19), Routledge; Bony.
Unused subs Tremmel, Taylor, Fulton, Emnes.
Sent off Chico 16 (two yellow cards)
Referee Phil Dowd