Who: Chelsea FC vs. Swansea City AFC
What: English Premier League, Matchweek 35
Where: Stamford Bridge, London, England, UK
When: Sunday, April 28, 2013
Weather: The Weather Channel forecast
Time: 15:00 GMT/10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT
TV: Fox Soccer 2Go, Fox Soccer Plus (US)
Worldwide TV Streams and Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Radio: TalkSport Radio
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
3-Way Odds: Chelsea -300, Swansea City +700, Draw +425
Total: Over 3 -130, Under 3 Even
Decimal Odds: Chelsea 1.33, Swansea City 8.00, Draw 5.25
Decimal Total: Over 3 1.77, Under 3 2.00
Fractional Odds: Chelsea 1/3, Swansea City 7/1, Draw 17/4
Fractional Total: Over 3 27/20, Under 3 4/7
Chelsea -1 -190, Swansea City +1 +150
Chelsea -1½ -105, Swansea City +1½ -125
Over 2½ -200, Under 2½ +155
Source: Bovada (Kahnawake, Canada)
Chelsea will certainly be glad to return home to the friendly confines of Stamford Bridge on Sunday to play host to Swansea City after three straight road matches which were all controversial affairs, to say the least.
After losing to the Swans in the Capital One Cup semifinals in a strange series that saw Eden Hazard slapped with a red card after his infamous sideline dance with a ball-boy at the Liberty Stadium on Nov. 3 in the second leg, the Blues will be undoubtedly be on their best behavior.
But the really big motivating factor here for third-place Chelsea (18-8-7, 62 points) against ninth-place Swansea (10-12-11) will be trying to get the win and the three points as the three big London clubs jockey for position heading down the homestretch in search of those two valuable Champions League qualifying spots still up for grabs in the English Premier League.
Fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur (18-7-8, 61 points) will be at Wigan Athletic on Saturday (Fox Soccer Channel 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT) while third-place Arsenal (18-9-7, 63 points) will host league winners Manchester United on Sunday (Fox Soccer Channel 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT).
The Swans and manager Michael Laudrup enter on a five-game winless streak (0-2-3) and for Swansea, finishing in the top half of the table when it's all said and done is its stated goal.
On offense, the Swans have almost been a one-man band this season with Michu (17 goals) scoring 40 percent of the club's 43 league goals entering this showdown with the soon-to-be former European champions.
Jonathan De Guzman (5 goals), Luke Moore (3) and Nathan Dyer (3) are the next three leading scorers for the first Welsh team ever in England's top flight—though they will be joined by fellow countrymen Cardiff City next season after the Bluebirds won the npower Championship and earned promotion earlier this month.
And there is no doubt in my mind now that the Illuminati and the Audubon Society have now joined forces to make sure one day all teams in the Premier League will have bird nicknames after the recent promotions of Swansea and Norwich City (Canaries).
So hold on tight Crystal Palace (Eagles), Leeds United (Peacocks), Nott's County (Magpies), Brighton & Hove Albion (Seagulls), Sheffield United (Owls), Bristol City, Swindon Town, Altrincham, Charlton Athletic and Cheltenham Town (All nicknamed Robins), there is still hope for you.
In goal for the Swans, 29-year-old Dutch international Michel Vorm—who has been linked to possible summer moves to Arsenal and Barcelona, but denied a rumored move to Liverpool last week according to the Daily Mirror—has had a solid season (six clean sheets), but will have to really be at his best here against a hungry Chelsea side.
Capital One Cup champions Swansea have been pretty poor away from home (4-5-7, 15 goals for, 19 goals against), but Vorm and the Swans were defensive enough to earn a 1-1 draw against the Blues in the team's EPL meeting on Nov. 3 at Liberty Stadium.
Chelsea (10-4-2 at home, 35 goals for, 13 goals against) and interim manager Rafael Benítez will be riding the high of Thursday's dramatic 2-1 win over FC Basel 1893 in Switzerland in which the effervescent David Luiz banged home the late game-winner on a free kick in the first leg of the team's Europa League semifinals series.
A cup-tied Demba Ba, John Obi Mikel and Gary Cahill all sat out against Basel and may be part of Benítez's starting XI for Chelsea which will host Basel in the second leg at Stamford Bridge on Thursday (Fox Soccer Channel, 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT).
With so much at stake, the dynamic duo of Juan Mata (10 goals, 12 assists in EPL) and Eden Hazard (nine goals, nine assists) will surely be in the Blues advanced midfield behind either striker Ba or Fernando Torres.
And with the seemingly always-on Petr Čech in goal, a little bit more luck due its way and the powerful home-field advantage, Chelsea should find a way to top the suddenly anemic Swans in this one.
The last time these two clubs met in West London last season, the Blues rolled to a 4-1 win. This game should also be fairly high-scoring as the posted total (3) indicates.
For the sake of its confidence, Chelsea (33 games played)—which still has a game in hand over Arsenal (34)—needs to be at its best against Swansea here and not have any controversial decisions from referees impede its chances of landing that coveted Championship League berth.
Projected Swansea City starting XI: Vorm; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies; Britton De Guzman, Michu; Dyer, Routledge, Hernandez.
Projected Chelsea starting XI: Čech; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Cole; Mikel, Ramires; Hazard, Mata, Oscar; Ba.
PREDICTION: Chelsea 3 Swansea City 1
BETS: Chelsea -1 -190, Over 2½ -200
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