Champions Chelsea begin the defence of their Premier League crown with a home encounter with Swansea City, a side against whom they scored nine goals in their two meetings last season.
The manner of their defeat to Arsenal in Sunday’s Community Shield will have given Blues boss Jose Mourinho food for thought, with Eden Hazard rather on the periphery while strikers Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao were also kept quiet. However, they are favourites to retain the title for a reason; they have that winning mentality and can manage games better than any other side.
Falcao is one of very few summer additions, so the home side possess a settled squad, but will do exceptionally well to win the league anywhere near as comfortably as they did in 2014-15. Without Hazard on top form, there are some doubts to be had, but with such strength and resilience within the team it is, as things stand, difficult to look past them when predicting who will be triumphant next May.
Swansea come into this season off the back of a massive triumph of their own, upsetting the odds to finish in their highest Premier League position of eighth and continuing to perform to a high level even after the January departure of top scorer Wilfried Bony. It will be a tough act to follow, but Garry Monk has emerged as a hugely talented young manager and has proven very capable of getting the best out of the players available.
The midfield trio of Ki Sung-Yueng, Jonjo Shelvey and Gylfi Sigurdsson will be key to their attacking exploits, and the Welsh club will certainly be hoping to remain tight at the back. A strong defensive record was often overlooked by observers last season, with the aforementioned nine goals conceded against Chelsea last term turning out to be very much in the minority. Chelsea will be favourites, but they should have every reason to be wary of the visitors.
Diego Costa is poised to remain out of action for at least another week, meaning Falcao or Remy will be given another chance to stake a claim. Oscar is among the players pushing for a recall.
Andre Ayew has the potential to be one of the signings of the summer and he should make his Swansea debut. Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Eder and Franck Tabanou are also in line to feature, but defender Jordi Amat is doubtful with a foot problem.
Last Meeting: Both teams boasted 100% records when they met at Stamford Bridge in September 2014, and it was Swansea who took the lead with a John Terry own goal, but Diego Costa’s fantastic start to life in English football continued with a 22-minute hat-trick either side of half-time. Substitute Loic Remy put Chelsea out of sight before Jonjo Shelvey’s late consolation.
Played for both – Scott Sinclair: Chelsea signed the winger as a 16-year-old from Bristol Rovers in July 2005, but amid a series of loan spells only one of his five Premier League appearances for the West Londoners came from the start – against Manchester United in May 2007. He eventually moved on to Swansea and became a key player, scoring a hat-trick in the 2011 Championship play-off final to take them to the Premier League, going on to score nine goals in the top-flight before leaving for Manchester City in August 2012.
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