Chelsea can take another giant stride towards the Premier League title with victory over relegation-threatened Swansea City at Stamford Bridge tomorrow. Antonio Conte’s side boasts a commanding eight-point lead at the top of the table with 13 fixtures remaining and are unbeaten in eight matches in all competitions. Opponents Swansea have enjoyed an upturn in fortunes since Paul Clement was appointed head coach and are now as high as 15th, four points clear of the relegation zone. Despite their recent improvements, they are not expected to cause the Blues too much trouble.
Remarkably, Chelsea have suffered only one Premier League defeat since September, which coincided with Conte’s tactical decision to switch to three at the back. Prolific in attack and defensively resolute, they wear the look of champions. The draw with Burnley in their previous encounter may have been two points dropped, but it has not affected their supremacy. Meanwhile, with 12 points accrued from a possible 18 – including a sensational 3-2 victory over Liverpool at Anfield – Clement’s arrival has had the desired effect. Swansea’s survival ambitions now appear to be much more realistic.
David Luiz has been nursing a minor knee injury and was rested for the FA Cup victory over Wolves last weekend, but he is expected to return to the starting line-up. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is a slight doubt following a stomach bug, so Asmir Begovic is on standby to deputise should he not fully recover in time. Clement, on his return to the club he coached in two separate spells, will be without Nathan Dyer, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a serious Achilles injury. Jefferson Montero (hamstring) is doubtful, but Leon Britton may return from a back complaint.
Chelsea starting XI Swansea City starting XI
Swansea are rejuvenated under Clement but face the sternest possible examination against a rampant Chelsea side that are odds-on to lift the title. The Swans did scare Manchester City earlier this month, losing only to a last-gasp goal, but it is hard to imagine anything other than a home win here. Conte’s side are full of confidence and, with no European football this season, are much fresher than some of their rivals. They will view this fixture as an opportunity to extend their advantage, while anything other than a defeat would be a huge bonus for the visitors.
Score prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Swansea City