TALKING TACTICS: Chelsea v Swans
25th February 2017
Ahead of the Premier League meeting with Chelsea at the Stamford, we have teamed up with football stats experts WhoScored.com to preview this afternoon's encounter.
It will have been two weeks since Swansea last played a competitive game by the time their match in London kicks off, which has allowed the team and players ample time to take stock of the season and prepare for the tough trip to the home of the league leaders.
The Swans recorded a vital 2-0 win over Leicester City in their most recent Premier League match to take their points total to 12 in 2017, which is one of the better returns in England's top tier this calendar year.
Chelsea may have earned more home points (33) than any other Premier League team this season, but Swansea have fared well against the Blues in recent outings and are unbeaten in their last three league meetings with the west London outfit - winning oncee.
Furthermore, only Manchester United (seven) have earned more away points than Swansea (six) in 2017 as Paul Clement continues to impressively turn the club's fortunes around.
A positive result at Stamford Bridge would undoubtedly improve Swansea's chances of consolidating their Premier League place this season and it's vital the defence remains steadfast to secure a share of the spoils at the very least.
A clean sheet against Leicester undoubtedly boosts morale coming into this fixture, with Alfie Mawson and Kyle Naughton both earning a place in the last Premier League team of the week following solid showings.
Both players will have their work cut out, with Naughton needing to turn out another similarly strong performance to ensure Chelsea struggle down their left side on Saturday.
The 28-year-old gained a WhoScored.com rating of 8.00 against Leicester as Marc Albrighton and Christian Fuchs struggled to make inroads at the Liberty Stadium, earning WhoScored.com ratings of 5.89 and 5.92.
The lack of impact saw the pair hauled off at half-time as Naughton comfortably kept the pair in check, minimising their attacking influence in the process.
His defensive qualities will be put to the test on Saturday once more against Chelsea, though he is averaging more tackles per game (2.8) than any Swansea player in the Premier League this season to reinforce a statistically-calculated WhoScored.com style of play of 'likes to tackle'.
He'll need to exhibit this weapon in his arsenal at Stamford Bridge, with Naughton likely to be tasked with stopping both Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso at the weekend. Only Alexis Sanchez (7.91) has gained a better WhoScored.com rating than Hazard (7.86) in the Premier League this season, while Alonso's rating (7.43) also ranks among the top 15 players this term.
Chelsea's left flank has been key to their rise to the summit, with Antonio Conte's switch to a three-man defence earlier in the season vital in that regard.
If Naughton can churn out another similarly strong performance at Stamford Bridge and keep the Chelsea attack at bay, then the Blues could struggle to break down Swansea at the weekend.
It's crucial, though, that he remains focused over the 90 minutes to ensure one of the Premier League's most potent attacking duos is unable to leave their mark on the game, thus improving the Swans' chances of a second successive positive result at Stamford Bridge.
*WhoScored.com is a unique website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Provided with unique stats, they compile and create comprehensive analysis on the major European divisions, including live match stats and player ratings. You can follow @WhoScored and their editorial officer Ben McAleer on Twitter.