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PMB: Swansea v Chelsea - tactics

There have been two defensive additions to the Chelsea squad since the emphatic win against Burnley and they increase Antonio Conte’s options in that area substantially. Both are tall, fast and versatile.

 

TACTICAL BRIEF

Marcos Alonso is a hard-running, attacking left-back and wing-back (not to mention set-piece expert) who could permit Cesar Azpilicueta to switch to the right, while in his first stay at Stamford Bridge David Luiz figured as a defensive midfielder as well as in central defence (though Conte has said he is less keen on the midfield idea).

Their arrival allows Conte to use a system with three centre-halves he has favoured elsewhere, alongside the 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-4 he has already used. He indicated on Friday that if three at the back are deployed then it will be as a 3-4-3 rather than with wing-backs in a 3-5-2.

Better still, both new players are very familiar with English football. The international break has provided little time to work on tactics and organisation with their new teammates, however.

The Italian would have been delighted to see Diego Costa continue his fine start to the season with goals for Spain this week. The 27-year-old striker now has five in four games for club and country and likes to find the net against the South Wales side.

Diego Costa missed last season’s defeat at the Liberty Stadium but, along with fellow Brazilian Oscar, took Swansea apart in the 5-0 two seasons ago, scoring twice. His first Blues hat-trick also came against the same side.  

In-form Eden Hazard will aim to mark up his first away goal of the season to add to his two in three matches to date, and top scorer Michy Batshuayi is pressing for a first Premier League start.

Another key player could be N’Golo Kante. The metronomic France midfielder’s ability to prevent opponents clearing their lines or breaking away is especially handy against teams such as this weekend’s hosts, who like to counter-attack and are not at their best defending deep under sustained pressure. 

Swansea’s start to the season has been a faltering one and they will be desperate to avoid a third defeat in succession that would only increase their fans’ anxiety.

Their chairman recently felt the need to issue a statement defending the new American owners’ summer transfer dealings, following the departures of defender and skipper Ashley Williams and top-scoring striker Andre Ayew.

Head coach Francesco Guidolin sticks pretty much with the same trusted personnel in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Chelsea Academy graduate Jack Cork the defensive midfield screen along with Leroy Fer (pictured top), whose previous loan has been made permanent.

They play a high line with an offside trap that can be played around by speedy opponents – as Jamie Vardy proved a fortnight ago. A 23-year-old centre-back, Mike van der Hoorn, joined from Ajax shortly before long-serving Williams’ switch to Goodison, but the experienced Federico Fernandez and Jordi Amat are likely to continue in the heart of defence this weekend, despite several difficult moments at Leicester. Had it not been for a fine performance by former Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. the Swans would have had to swallow a much heavier defeat than 1-2. 


Guidolin’s system largely stands or falls on the quality of the wing play, and especially the right flank, where Fer, whose loan from QPR was made permanent this summer, combines well with dribbling wideman Modou Barrow: the pair combined for the equaliser at the King Power Stadium. As ever, though, the Swans also benefit from Gylfi Sigurdsson’s ability to instigate counter-attacks and deliver a set-piece.

Upfront, West Ham-bound Ayew and three other strikers – Eder, Bafetimbi Gomis and Alberto Paloschi – have left, with World Cup-winner Fernando Llorente and club-record-signing Borja Baston joined by Oliver McBurnie from the Welsh club’s development set-up.

The £15.5m buy Baston nominally joined from Atletico, though he actually played for the Primera side just once. Last season he netted 18 goals in 36 matches on loan at Eibar, who finished 14th in the table. He has so far been sidelined with a thigh injury but is set to make his debut from the bench this weekend.

- Chelsea TV's tactical look at today's game is below.

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