Ah, club football on Boxing Day – the time for topical puns. Chelsea will face Swansea at Stamford Bridge on Thursday in a CRACKER of a game and Mourinho will hope his side don’t GIFT the visitors any points.
In a strange season where Chelsea have never really hit the heights come to have expected of them and Mourinho, the London club still find themselves in 2 points behind leaders Liverpool in 4th place and they are still going strong in the league and Champions League. Mourinho will hope that performances will start to improve however as they continue to make things hard for themselves and with the January transfer window just around the corner the current players should have enough incentive to perform.
Swansea’s inconsistent performances results this season have come from the adaptation to playing Thursday-Sunday on a regular basis and a relatively small squad has struggled when injuries have struck. Sitting in mid-table, 11th to be exact, fulfils the expected position Swansea are expected to fill come the end of the season.
A game that is likely to see Swansea have a higher percentage of possession will need someone in midfield with the ability to tackle and retain the ball – Ramires will be at the centre at that.
With a pass accuracy of 85% and completing 45 tackles – Chelsea’s highest in the league – Ramires will be important to prevent the style of Swansea’s play and allow the impressive attacking talent Chelsea possess to thrive.
The former Liverpool midfielder has often received some unfair criticism at times, but Shelvey has had a big impact on the Swansea side since his arrival in the summer.
Attributing 3 goals and 3 assists to the team in 13 starts, Shelvey adds a drive in the centre of midfield that helps to penetrate defences when opposition defences sit deep and a different approach is needed.
If Shelvey produces a performance that doesn’t involve an error, look at Liverpool at home for example, then Swansea could have a chance of getting something.
Bertrand and Van Ginkel continue to be the only injury absentees for Chelsea and are out for the foreseeable future.
Swansea look set to be without star player Michu, who is seeing a specialist this week to determine whether to have surgery on his ankle which would see him out for several weeks. Vorm (knee), Dyer (foot), and Vazquez (groin) continue to be absent.
Eden Hazard has created 40 chances in the league this season – the third most behind Nasri and Gerrard.
Chelsea have conceded more goals in this campaign (18) than Mourinho’s first year at the London club (15, 2004/05).
Swansea’s only visits to Stamford Bridge have ended in 2-0 and 4-1 defeats.
Swansea are known for their possession football and this has seen the Welsh club obtain a season average of 59.7%. For all their possession though, the Swans have a conversion rate of 12.9% this season.
With both teams having mixed seasons, it is difficult to predict what Chelsea or Swansea team turns up. Chelsea so far have managed to pick up the points though to see their title aspirations remain intact and they should add another 3 points to their tally on Boxing Day.