Who: Swansea City AFC vs. Chelsea FC
What: English Premier League Week 34
Where: Liberty Stadium, Landore, Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom
When: Sunday, April 13, 2014
Weather: The Weather Channel forecast Swansea
Time: 16:07 (UK) 11:07 a.m. ET/8:07 a.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Network, NBC Sports Live Extra (US)
Worldwide Livestreams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Radio: SiriusXM FC SIRI 94 (Internet 94), TalkSport Radio
Referee: Phil Dowd
3-Way Odds: Swansea City +440, Chelsea -150, Draw +275
Total: Over 2½ -105, Under 2½ -115
Decimal Odds: Swansea City 5.40, Chelsea 1.67, Draw 3.75
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 1.95, Under 2½ 1.87
Fractional Odds: Swansea City 22/5, Chelsea 2/3, Draw 11/4
Fractional Total: Over 2½ 20/21, Under 2½ 20/23
Alternate Odds: Swansea City +1-155, Chelsea -1 +130
Swansea City +1½ -240, Chelsea -1½ +195
Over 1½ -310, Under 1½ +250
Over 3½ +250, Under 3½ -310
First Half: Chelsea -½ +125, Swansea City +½ -165
Over 1 -110, Under 1 -120
Chelsea +120, Swansea City +425, Draw +120
Odds to Win Premier League: Manchester City 8/11, Liverpool 13/8, Chelsea 13/2
Source: Bovada (Kahnawake, Canada)
3-Way Odds: Swansea City +425, Chelsea -145, Draw +270
Total: Over 2½ +105, Under 2½ -125
Source: LVH SuperBook (Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
It will be just another game in a long line of must-wins down the homestretch for Chelsea in English Premier League play when the Blues head to Wales to play Swansea City on Sunday.
Chelsea head into the weekend in second place on 72 points and will be closely watching the result of the the game between first-place Liverpool and third-place Manchester City at Anfield earlier in the day.
A loss for the Reds combined with a win for the Blues would put Chelsea back in first place, but the big thing for both Liverpool and Jose Mourinho’s side to remember is that City will still have two games in hand on both of them.
Premier League table placement aside, 15th-place Swansea City would love to both help their own cause and creep just a little bit farther away from the relegation zone and stunt the Blues' chances of a Premier League and Champions League double this season.
The Swans and their recently-appointed manager Garry Monk haven’t proven to be that dominating at home this season, although—led by striker Wilfried Bony—they have scored an impressive 45 goals so far this campaign.
Although Michu has hardly been as effective as he was for the club in 2012/13, Nathan Dyer, Jonjo Shelvey and Jonathan De Guzman—with 14 goals between them—and others like Wayne Routledge have all chipped in for the offence. However, the 49 goals the Swans have conceded is more than twice that of Chelsea’s 24.
The Blues head into this fixture sky high off the back of a dramatic 2-0 second-leg UEFA Champions League quarter-final win over Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, which ensured the team's passage to the semi-final of the tournament.
In that game, the Blues suffered a huge blow when playmaker and leading scorer Eden Hazard suffered a calf injury that will keep him out of action for a minimum of two weeks, according to a report on BBC Sport.
"It is a calf problem, but I have no idea the dimension of his injury," Mourinho said of Hazard’s injury. "Even when they are not serious, you cannot play for a couple of weeks."
And with a Champions League semi-final and a long-anticipated date with Liverpool on April 27 coming up on Chelsea’s schedule, the 23-year-old’s attacking leadership will surely be missed and teammates Oscar, Andre Schurrle, Willian, Ramires and Mohamed Salah will all have to pick up some slack.
Another winter transfer acquisition who will likely start at Swansea and be a big part of Chelsea’s drive for a league championship is Nemanja Matic. The 25-year-old defensive midfielder may not fill up the stat sheets with goals and assists, but the former Benfica man—along with Hazard and goalkeeper Petr Cech—may actually be one the club’s most-important players.
The Blues are 7-4-5 away from West London in league play, and Chelsea fans will be hoping the team can end a two-game streak of 1-0 away defeats in Wales on Sunday.
Should Chelsea fall short of winning the league, fans will no doubt relive those two freaky Saturdays in March over and over in their heads this summer. But—following Tuesday night's success—at least there will be no nasty visions of hit woodwork and that late PSG goal in the opening leg of the quarter-final match at the Parc de Princes last week to compound any potential sleepless nights.
When Chelsea and Swansea met at Stamford Bridge in December, the Blues won 1-0 thanks to a first-half Hazard goal. Chelsea are an unbeaten 3-2-0 in league fixtures against the Swans since their promotion to England’s top flight in 2011, though they did defeat the Blues en route to Capital One Cup glory last season.
The two previous meetings at the Liberty Stadium both ended 1-1. However, a draw and a single point just won’t cut it for the visitors, so the defence will have to aim high for a clean sheet and the attack will have to put at least one goal past Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
And the Blues can definitely find a way to do that in this somewhat desperate situation on the sandy South West Wales coast.
Expect veteran leaders Frank Lampard and John Terry to shine in this one, as well as guys like the underrated Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill, who have this season helped to prove that the club still possesses one of the best defences in Europe, and one that can also come through with the occasional pivotal goal.
Also look for new kids on the royal-blue block—Matic and Salah—to contribute in a really big way in this particular game, as they both had to sit out and watch their team's late-goal progression to the semi-final of the Champions League in the week.
With Hazard now out and at least two more Champions League contests on the horizon, Mourinho—knowing Salah is cup-tied for those games—will likely lean heavily on the 21-year-old Egyptian in Premier League play from this point on to give some of his other attacking midfielders some rest.
And with his speed, fantastic footwork and nose for the ball, it would not be a surprise if Salah has a long and prolific career for Chelsea and scores more goals than the Europa League holders ever imagined possible when they signed him from FC Basel in January.
Riding the waves of elation from their electric win in SW6 on Tuesday and Champions League advancement courtesy of Demba Ba’s late goal, the Blues will find a way to beat the Swans here. And who knows, maybe Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o or Ba himself will come through in the clutch and take a little more heat off of the club’s much-maligned strike force.
Despite silly slip-ups on the road to lower-level sides over the past couple of weeks, Chelsea do have a proven track record of winning matches when it matters most—be it with Didier Drogba or Torres or Ba on the roster—and this is just another one of those games.
Hey, practice makes perfect, right?
PREDICTION: Swansea City 0 Chelsea 2
BETS: Chelsea -150, Chelsea -1 +130
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