Preview: Chelsea v Swansea

Chelsea will be gunning to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League standings when they face Swansea City on Saturday afternoon.

Premier League
Date: 25 February 2017
Match Day: 26
Kick-off: 17H00 (GMT+2)
Venue: Stamford Bridge

Referee: N. Swarbrick
Assistants: S. Long, S. Massey-Ellis
Fourth official: L. Probert

Head-to-head summary:

Chelsea 13 6 5 2
Swansea 13 2 5 6

Previous encounter:

Swansea 2-2 Chelsea 11/09/16 (Premier League)

Swansea goalscorers: G. Sigurdsson (PG 59′), L. Fer (62′)
Chelsea goalscorers: Diego Costa (18′, 81′)

Players to watch:

Without Diego Costa’s goals this season, it is fair to say Chelsea fans wouldn’t be smiling quite so broadly. The Blues have proved that while they don’t only rely on his contribution in front of goals, it certainly helps to have a striker that is able to bang them in with such regularity. Costa’s goal-tally currently stands at 15 from 23 league matches and he has netted seven goals in just four matches against Saturday’s opposition.

Gylfi Sigurdsson continues to be the man that makes Swansea tick, and he along with a number of teammates are currently enjoining a run of good form under new manager Paul Clement. Sigurdsson has netted a few important goals for the Swans already term and will need to be kept quiet by Chelsea who are looking to earn their first win over the Welsh side this season – having dropped their first points against the Swans.

Team form and manager quotes:

While Chelsea are unbeaten in their last eight matches across all competitions, with just two defeats in 23 games, Swansea have only started to pick up positive results.

Clement has overseen something of a resurgence in recent weeks, with three wins from five league games, and while they were unlucky to lose 2-1 to Manchester City, there have been victories over Liverpool, Southampton and Leicester.

They were bottom of the league when he appointed, while they now sit in a more comfortable 15th place.

The Blues, meanwhile, eight points clear of second-placed Manchester City, come into this game on the back of a 2-0 win over Wolves in the FA Cup, having recently drawn to Burnley and Liverpool, either side of defeating Arsenal 3-1.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte spent time with England rugby union coach Eddie Jones before this game, and said: “Eddie is a winner and he is transferring that mentality on to the team.

“It is important for me to compare my work and experience with another sport to gain inspiration and tactical ideas for the future.

“To win, not only one game, not one battle but the whole war it is important to create a good spirit.

“To create a team, and to try to exploit every single player, the talent of every single player in the best way you must find right solution, the right system, to create a family spirit, a good spirit.

“Then in the negative moments it’s important to have a family. If you have a family, you solve the situation and then can go forward.”

Clement, who is returning to the team he worked at part-time in the club’s academy before returning as Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant, said: “I have said to the players that yes we have put ourselves in a good position, but how hard are we willing to work to make sure we continue to improve?

“Because unless we keep winning games and progressing up the table, we are going to find ourselves in a position where we need, say, four points from the last two games of the season.

“We want to keep getting points now to make sure that we don’t end up in that kind of situation, and the next opportunity to get points is at Chelsea.

“We know we are going to have to be at our very best against them, but we are not daunted by the challenge.

“Nobody is expecting us to win. That takes the pressure off to a certain extent.”

The last time we played Swansea in the league it ended 2-2. What are your score predictions for Saturday? ⚽️#CFC #Chelsea

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Team news:

Conte has concerns over Thibaut Courtois, who suffered from Gastroenteritis during the week before making his return to training on Thursday.

Clement welcomes back captain Leon Britton following his recovery from calf and back problems.

But Nathan Dyer (Achilles), Ki Sung Yeung (knee) and Jefferson Montero (hamstring) are long-term casualties.