It is time for yet another gallant cup performance from Chelsea. How might the Blues overturn the 0-2 first leg deficit to reach the Capital One Cup final?
Swansea's success in the first leg was founded on solid defence and opportunist finishing. They scored with their two shots on target, handed to them by two errors. Petr Cech has since returned to fitness and should replace Ross Turnbull, who played that night, in goal.
Michael Laudrup asked his team to defend deep and swamp the middle, with Ki Sung-Yueng instrumental in breaking up the passing between Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata. The Blues were unable to find space behind Angel Rangel, Chico Flores et al and the chances that arose were not as clear cut as Rafael Benitez would have liked.
Upfront, stomach-illness victim Fernando Torres was off-colour and Demba Ba was not introduced until late in the match because of a slight injury. In a monstrous 10 minutes the substitute consistently troubled the Swans' rearguard with his pace, power and touch.
He was extremely unlucky to be cautioned for simulation after tripping over goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel, then to have a perfectly legitimate strike ruled out for offside. If, as seems likely, the Senegalese striker starts tonight the hosts, including the impressive Ashley Williams, could find themselves stretched from the outset.
Both managers selected strong sides in the league at the weekend, with striker Itay Shechter replaced by transfer-target Danny Graham late on. Set-play specialist Jonathan De Guzman scored twice in Swansea's 3-1 win over Stoke, but that was their first home league win since November.
Key defender Chico was missing from that match and would be a significant miss were injury to rule him out again this evening. Likewise David Luiz for Chelsea, although at present - despite a couple of central midfield absences - Benitez has very good cover.
Chelsea will be hoping for more of the irresistible football displayed against Arsenal in the first half on Sunday, which should have brought more reward than two goals. Swansea like to play the ball out from the back and the Blues' pressing in the final third was impressive.
The influence of Cesar Azpilicueta continues to grow too. The raiding right-back has set up goals in the last two matches, the most recent with a brilliant diagonal pass to Juan Mata. Chelsea's elusive no.10 himself created three and scored one goal in the same two games. Should the Spain midfielder - who played on the wing in the first leg - find similar space on the edge of the Swans' box it could make for a very interesting evening.
Meanwhile the Blues have to find a way to shut out Michu, who scored playing as a striker at the Bridge but also presents a goalscoring threat from a deeper, attacking midfield role.
Laudrup successfully deployed two wingers, Pablo Hernández and Wayne Routledge, to thwart the Blues' full-backs in the first leg. Knowing that only victory by two goals or more will do, Chelsea may feel Azpilicueta and newly re-signed Ashley Cole will have to take risks down the flanks to support the attack against Swansea's vulnerable wide defenders.
The experience and eye for goal of Frank Lampard in these semi-final settings could also be crucial. In his early career the midfielder was on loan from West Ham at Swansea and made his debut for them alongside former Blues keeper Roger Freestone … against 2012/13 Capital One Cup finalists Bradford City.
Swansea centre-back Chico Flores is reported fit. Midfielder Kemy Agustien is out with an ankle injury.
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Chelsea in the League Cup
Winners: 1964/65, 1997/98, 2004/05, 2006/07
Runners-up: 1971/72, 2007/08
Semi-finalists: 1972/73, 1984/85, 1990/91, 2001/02, 2012/13
By beating Leeds we reached our 11th League Cup semi-final. We have won our last three against Everton, Wycombe Wanderers and Manchester United.
|Our 10 previous League Cup semi-finals|
|1st leg||2nd leg||Aggregate|
|1964/65||Aston Villa||A 3-2||H 1-1||4-3|
|1971/72||Tottenham||H 3-2||A 2-2||5-4|
|1972/73||Norwich||H 0-2||A 0-1||0-3|
|1984/85||Sunderland||A 0-2||H 2-3||2-5|
|1990/91||Sheffield Wed||H 0-2||A 1-3||1-5|
|1997/98||Arsenal||A 1-2||H 3-1||4-3|
|2001/02||Tottenham||H 2-1||A 1-5||3-6|
|2004/05||Man Utd||H 0-0||A 2-1||2-1|
|2006/07||Wycombe||A 1-1||H 4-0||5-1|
|2007/08||Everton||H 2-1||A 1-0||3-1|
Last 10 seasons in the League Cup
2001/02 - Semi-final
2002/03 - Quarter-final
2003/04 - Quarter-final
2004/05 - Winners
2005/06 - 3rd round
2006/07 - Winners
2007/08 - Runners-up
2008/09 - 4th round
2009/10 - Quarter-final
2010/11 - 3rd round
2011/12 - Quarter-final
Kerry Dixon is our leading scorer in the League Cup with 25 goals followed by Frank Lampard 11, Peter Osgood and Bobby Tambling 10 and Didier Drogba nine.
Chelsea have won three of our last five penalty shoot-outs, the last being at the Allianz Arena in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
|Last six results|