Here we go again. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton are ready and waiting for the defence of our title to get underway at teatime tomorrow...
Welcome back to serious football, with the added frisson of gold Premier League arm badges, an honour accorded to the title-winning team alone. The problem of being champions is that everyone else thinks they have seen the best that you can offer. The trick of repeating success is to find something different and better to beat them with.
With a few new faces and some departed there is stability at the core of last season’s ‘uncatchables’ that few can now match, and opponents underestimate the strength of continuity at their peril.
Outsiders might deduce that following such a domestic triumph the club will prioritise success on Europe’s top stage this campaign. But Chelsea are not built that way and nothing would satisfy Jose Mourinho more than a successive Premier League win. He will demand his young, newly-blooded side display, like him, the insatiable craving of winners.
Chelsea have won 12 of the last 13 opening-day games and 14 of the last 16. The 2011 goalless draw at Stoke and the 1-1 draw against Newcastle in 2001 were the only occasions we failed to win all three points. Since the formation of the Premier League the Blues have had 15 wins, three defeats and five draws. Our last defeat was at Highfield Road in 1998 when Coventry City beat us 2-1.
The manager of our opponents, Garry Monk, has lost all three competitive games against Chelsea since taking command of the Swans in 2014.
A familiar face has also returned to the Premier League in our 2000-2004 manager Claudio Ranieri, now installed at Leicester City. He has a tough task ahead of him as successor to Nigel Pearson. The Foxes were the only survivors among the top tier’s 2014/15 new arrivals, QPR and Burnley succumbing after all three had occupied the bottom slots with ten games to play.
Today’s opponents, promoted in 2011, enjoyed a perfect start last season, including a shock opening-day win at Old Trafford. After three matches they were second in the table, only behind Chelsea on goal difference. Their fourth match, at Stamford Bridge, did not go how they would have liked (see the We Have History section tomorrow) and a mini collapse ensued – although they still eventually secured their highest ever finish, eighth. It will be interesting to see the shrewd Monk’s strategic approach this time when facing the best in the land.
Jose will be drilling his men not to succumb to complacency. Champions Chelsea have finished in the top five in all but three of the previous 18 seasons since 1997/98, but he is one of only just six managers to have retained the top-flight title, and the only still in full working order.
The Blues’ back-to-back success was achieved from the platform of a sensational start to the 2005/06 season, prefaced by a 2-1 Community Shield victory over Arsenal. We have now lost the Shield match following our last three title wins. But you know what they say: dodgy dress rehearsal, good first night.
In the last few days referees have been familiarising players and managers with a change to the interpretation of the offside law. From this season referees have to take into account whether a player who is an offside position attempts to play the ball or otherwise affects the judgment of an opposing player.
Essentially this means someone can be adjudged to have ‘interfered with play’ even if he does not touch the ball. Be prepared for more disputes surrounding disallowed goals while the ruling beds in.
The title pretensions of United and Tottenham are on show in the first televised match of 2015/16. Spurs have a poor record against the Red Devils, though, and were playing in Munich on Wednesday evening. Stoke versus Liverpool is a quick repeat of the 24 May match that finished 6-1 in the Potters’ favour.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Manchester United v Tottenham 12.45pm BT Sport
Bournemouth v Aston Villa 3pm
Everton v Watford 3pm
Leicester v Sunderland 3pm
Norwich v Crystal Palace 3pm
Chelsea v Swansea 5.30pm Sky Sports
Arsenal v West Ham 1.30pm Sky Sports
Newcastle v Southampton 1.30pm
Stoke v Liverpool 4pm Sky Sports
West Brom v Manchester City 8pm - Sky Sports
Last season's Premier League top eight
CHELSEA IN NUMBERS
Chelsea were alone among the 92 teams in remaining unbeaten at home in the league last season. We remain unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League since 19 April 2014.
The Pensioners have kept 18 clean sheets in the last 27 Premier League games at the Bridge, conceding just 11 goals.
The Blues are unbeaten in 12 opening-day matches at Stamford Bridge, last losing to Blackburn in 1993.
Chelsea have kept 16 clean sheets in our last 21 Barclays Premier League games at Stamford Bridge, conceding just seven goals.
Pre-season scorers (5)
Hazard 2, Cahill 1, Moses 1, Remy 1.
Last season’s Premier League stats
Most starts: Eden Hazard 38, Branislav Ivanovic 38, John Terry 38.
Most goals: Diego Costa 20, Eden Hazard 14, Loic Remy 7.
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 1
A home defeat: 20
Eden Hazard requires one goal for a half-century of goals for the Blues. He will become only our eighth overseas player to reach that milestone.
Top goals by overseas players
Didier Drogba 164
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 87
Gianfranco Zola 80
Eidur Gudjohnsen 78
Salomon Kalou 60
Nicolas Anelka 59
Tore Andre Flo 50
SWANSEA IN NUMBERS
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 tier) in 2004/05 and arriving in the Premier League via the Championship play-offs in May 2011.
Premier League - 8th
FA Cup - fourth round
Capital One Cup - fourth round
Last season Swansea managed seven away league wins with creditable victories at Arsenal and Manchester United. They defeated Manchester United 2-1 at Old Trafford on the opening day with goals from Ki Sung-Yueng and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Swansea City finished eighth in the Premier League in 2014/15 with 56 points, their highest position and points total for a Premier League season, and second highest finish in the top flight of all time.
Last season’s Premier League stats
Most starts: Lukasz Fabianski 37, Ashley Williams 37, Neil Taylor 34.
Most goals: Ki Sung-Yueng 8, Bafetimbi Gomis 7, Gylfi Sigurdsson 7.
Manager Garry Monk
Days in charge 550
Pre-season scorers (5)
Ayew 1, Bartley 1, Cork 1, Gomis 1, Grimes 1.
For their final pre-season friendly against Deportivo La Coruna last weekend, Swansea lined up as follows:
Fabianski; Naughton, Fernandez, Williams (c), Taylor (Tabanou h/t), Cork, Ki Sung-Yueng, Shelvey (Sigurdsson h/t), Routledge (Montero h/t), A Ayew (Dyer 74), Gomis (Eder 74). The attendance was 12,292.
League games since
An away win: 1
An away draw: 9
An away defeat: 0
Ins Andre Ayew (Marseille, free), Franck Tabanou (St Etienne, undisclosed), Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Heerenveen, undisclosed), Eder (Braga, undisclosed)
Outs Alan Tate (Released), Gerhard Tremmel (Released), Michu (released), David Cornell (Released), Jazz Richards (Fulham, undisclosed)(Bournemouth, loan extension), Jos Hooiveld (Millwall, loan), Jack Cork (Swansea, undisclosed).
Ins Radamel Falcao (Monaco, loan), Asmir Begovic (Stoke, undisclosed), Nathan (Atletico Paranaense, undisclosed), Danilo Pantic (Partizan Belgrade, undisclosed).
Outs Petr Cech (Arsenal, undisclosed), Didier Drogba (end of contract, now Montreal Impact), Josh McEachran (Brentford, undisclosed), Gael Kakuta (Sevilla, undisclosed), George Brady (released, now Sunderland), Christian Atsu (Bournemouth, loan), Lewis Baker (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Mario Pasalic (Monaco, loan), Andreas Christensen (Borussia Monchengladbach, loan), Stipe Perica (Udinese, loan), Danilo Pantic (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Izzy Brown (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Nathan (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Marco van Ginkel (Stoke, loan), Victorien Angban (Sint-Truidense, loan), Tomas Kalas (Middlesbrough, loan), Jordan Houghton (Gillingham, loan), Patrick Bamford (Crystal Palace, loan), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa, loan), Wallace (Carpi, loan).
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Michael Oliver is the referee. His most recent visit to Stamford Bridge was the 1-0 League Cup win against Liverpool.
There are no suspensions.