Chelsea-Swansea City Preview
LONDON (SE) - Premier League leaders Chelsea travel to Wales to face Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Following a headline-grabbing week on and off the field, Chelsea will be hoping to take a boost from their 5-4 win over Manchester United in the League Cup on Wednesday, while not allowing the on-going allegations against referee Mark Clattenburg to impact on their performances on the pitch.
"It's important that we don't let anything affect us and we showed (against Manchester United that) that won't happen," said centre-back Gary Cahill. "Whatever is going on off the pitch, players relish playing football. I had never felt as angry and disappointed about a game two days later and we really wanted to put that right. Although we were very unfortunate on Sunday, it was important that we got back to winning ways after two sticky results, especially against Manchester United."
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo opted not to comment over the specific case surrounding the referee from last Sunday's game, but did choose the aftermath of Wednesday's cup win to question whether referees' decisions have a tendency to go against his side.
"It's incredible that we got two players sent off in one game," remarked Di Matteo. "At QPR, one was correct and one was probably not correct. And on Sunday, one was harsh and probably correct and the second one was 100% not correct, so it's incredible that always it's Chelsea Football Club. So maybe that's something to think about, you know.
"I think the referees should be going into the games with the most confidence they can have. You know we're under pressure here to perform, and I don't think there is any prejudice from that point of view."
Saturday's hosts have had a reasonable start to the season, but manager Michael Laudrup is well aware of the challenge that awaits his team this weekend.
"On Saturday we play the European Champions and there will be some tired legs, but I hope we can produce another good performance," said Laudrup. "We can compare Saturday's game to the one against Man City. We know what to expect from them because they have so much quality, but it is up to us to try and stop them. We have to be compact in defence but when we have the ball we need to play like we did on Saturday and Wednesday.
"The big teams have to attack, and that can sometimes mean we have more time to play because there are different approaches to these kinds of games. But I'm not concerned about Saturday's game because I know we will play well. If I'm honest, I'm more concerned about the next game against Southampton because we play a smaller club on the back of three big games."
Swansea City are without Michel Vorm (groin), Kyle Bartley (thigh) and Neil Taylor (ankle). Chelsea have doubts over Ashley Cole (ankle) and Frank Lampard (calf).
Swansea picked up a point in this game last season, having not faced the Blues since 1983. Swansea won their first two games, scoring eight goals and conceding none, but have picked up just five points from their seven games since - conceding 13. Chelsea have yet to lose a match away from home this season (a record that only Manchester City can match in the English top flight) while the Blues' loss to Manchester United ended a run of nine games unbeaten (including eight wins). Two players are tied at the top of the Premier League assist charts with five… and both play for Chelsea - Juan Mata and Eden Hazard.