Preview: Swans v Chelsea
Swansea City look to strike a blow in the fight for Premier League survival when they take on Chelsea this evening (5.30pm).
But the Swans know a top-class performance will be required if they are to topple one of the division’s heavyweight clubs.
Carlos Carvalhal’s team have done just that before, of course, having seen off Arsenal and Liverpool in recent months.
Now they will attempt to become the first club outside the Premier League’s big six to beat three of the big-six sides this season.
Chelsea, of course, will have other ideas. Their chances may be fading, but Antonio Conte’s fifth-place team have not given up hope of securing Champions League qualification.
Last season’s Premier League title winners went through a difficult run between late February and early April – although they did face some stellar opponents – but they have been impressive in the last couple of weeks.
They won back-to-back away league games at Southampton and Burnley before seeing off the Saints in last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final.
Now they look to make it four straight victories against opponents they have enjoyed facing in the Premier League.
The Swans have won only one of the 13 league meetings with Chelsea since promotion in 2011, courtesy of a Gylfi Sigurdsson goal in April 2016.
If they can make it two this evening, Carvalhal’s men will have made a significant stride forward as they attempt to secure their top-tier status for next season.
A Chelsea side which is likely to feature the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian and N’Golo Kante will take some beating, but the Swans can take heart from their home form.
They have banked 13 points from the last 15 on offer at the Liberty, and should really have had maximum points when they drew with Everton.
The Swans have concerns at the back, with central defenders Federico Fernandez and Kyle Bartley both picking up knee problems at Manchester City last weekend.
Luciano Narsingh, meantime, faces a late test on the ankle injury which kept him out of the trip to the Etihad Stadium.
Renato Sanches returned to full training this week but is unlikely to feature, while Leroy Fer and Wilfried Bony are on the long-term injured list.
Chelsea are set to be without injured duo David Luiz and Ethan Ampadu, while there are also doubts over Danny Drinkwater. Marcos Alonso is suspended.
WHAT THEY SAID
Carlos Carvalhal: “We are playing very well at home. We have felt the energy of the Liberty and our players feel comfortable when they are playing there. This is very important.”
Jordan Ayew: “We are not scared of anyone at home. We can get points – we know that.”
Chelsea defender Gary Cahill: “All we can do now is try to win our games. But the gap is big, you’re looking at some very good teams above us and I’d be surprised if they slipped up.”
LAST SIX MEETINGS
29.11.17 Chelsea 1 Swans 0
25.2.17 Chelsea 3 Swans 1
11.9.16 Swans 2 Chelsea 2
9. 4.16 Swans 1 Chelsea 0
8.8.15 Chelsea 2 Swans 2
17.1.15 Swans 0 Chelsea 5
5 – The Swans are unbeaten in five Premier League home matches on home soil. They have gone six without defeat only once before at this level, when Brendan Rodgers’s team put a seven-game streak together back in 2011-12.
4 – Olivier Giroud could be one for the Swans to watch this evening. In four starts for Arsenal at the Liberty, he scored twice and claimed two assists.