Chelsea vs Swansea 15:00
Chelsea drew 0-0 with Arsenal at the Emirates on Monday evening. Terrible conditions affected the chance of seeing too much attacking football but a point kept the Blues in the top 4 heading into their Boxing Day tie with Swansea.
Ramires continued in his role as one of the most heavily penalised players in the league following the game against Arsenal. The Brazilian ranks joint first, along with Southampton’s Victor Wanyama, for fouls conceded with 33.
Cesar Azpilicueta has been one of the players who has perhaps responded best to the challenge laid down by Jose Mourinho. No player was guaranteed his spot following the Portuguese’s return to Stamford Bridge and Azpilicueta has responded with some stellar performances. The Spaniard currently has the best tackle success rate of any Blues player to have attempted more than 5 tackles, winning an excellent 87.2% of his 39 attempted challenges.
Eden Hazard’s quick feet and natural flair have continued to work their magic this season, with Jose Mourinho also adding a steel and solidity to the Belgian’s play. Hazard still does what he does best though and has continued to strike fear into opposition defences, leading the league for dribbles with 60. Hazard is 9/5 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
A tight game at The Liberty Stadium eventually saw Swansea on the wrong end of the final result against Everton, the Swans going down 1-2 at home to the Toffees.
With news of Michu’s injury, even more pressure will fall on the shoulders of Wilfried Bony to lead the line for Swansea. The big Ivorian has had more attempts on goal than any other Swans player (28) yet so far has not been as accurate in front of goal as he would have hoped, with only 46.4% of his shots finding the target. He will be looking to improve this tally against a Chelsea side who have looked unshaky away from home at times this season.
It appears that even against as strong a team as Everton, Swansea’s commitment to technical, attractive football is never dimmed. Of the top ten players in the league for passes completed in the opponent’s half in the last round, five of them belong to Michael Laudrup’s side (Jose Canas, Chico, Pablo Hernandez, Jonathan de Guzman, Ashley Williams).
Chico Flores passed a personal landmark against Everton last weekend, becoming the first Swansea player this season to amass more than 100 clearances in the current campaign (101). Expect this total to rise against an outfit boasting as many attack-minded players as Chelsea.