Swansea City vs. Chelsea: 6 Things We Learned

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2014

Swansea City vs. Chelsea: 6 Things We Learned

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    Chelsea scrapped their way to a 1-0 victory over 10-man Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday thanks to a second-half goal from Demba Ba.

    Chico Flores was sent off for a second bookable offence after just 16 minutes, leaving the relegation-threatened Swans with a mountain to climb if they were to get anything from the game.

    It seemed like they could get at least a point, however, with Chelsea proving wasteful in front of goal until Ba's 68th-minute strike broke the deadlock. From there, the Blues closed the game out and came away deserved winners.

    With a precious three points in the bag, the result leaves Jose Mourinho's side breathing down the neck of Liverpool at the top of the table and putting them firmly back in the title race.

    And with Chelsea traveling to Anfield in two weeks, this victory has whet the appetite for what will surely be a game that decides where the Premier League trophy resides come May.

    Here are six things we learned from Chelsea's trip to the Liberty Stadium.

Demba Ba Has a Big Role to Play in the Run-in

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    Two games, two wins and two goals for Demba Ba.

    In fact, it's been Ba's goals that have won Chelsea those games, too.

    The first came against Paris Saint-Germain in midweek as Ba scored an 87th-minute winner to send Chelsea through to the Champions League semi-final, and he followed it up with the only goal against Swansea City to pick up a priceless three points.

    The Senegalese striker has been a peripheral figure for much of the campaign, but he is now hitting form at the right time of the season.

    Not many would have predicted it, but he's going to have a considerable role to play in the coming weeks as Chelsea chase glory at home and in Europe.

Chelsea Need Some Shooting Practice

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    With a man advantage for the best part of 75 minutes, Chelsea seemed to be doing a good job of keeping Swansea City in this game.

    They dominated proceedings from the moment Flores was dismissed for a second bookable offence, but for all their dominance, they couldn't hit the target.

    Indeed, Mohamed Salah was guilty of missing two gilt-edged chances in the first half, while Samuel Eto'o also proved wasteful following his introduction after the interval.

    Chelsea had a total of 26 shots at goal against Swansea, with just three on target.

    With stats like that, it's clear the Blues need to be putting in a little more effort on the training ground when it comes to their shooting practice.

Samuel Eto'o Can't Buy a Goal Away from Home

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    Samuel Eto'o has 11 goals for Chelsea this season, with each and every one of them coming at Stamford Bridge.

    After his performance against Swansea City, it's not difficult to see why.

    The Cameroon forward worked hard to get himself into goalscoring positions, but he struggled to properly test Michel Vorm.

    Even as the game neared an end and Chelsea found more space at the back, Eto'o still fluffed his lines, mishitting shots or simply giving away possession cheaply.

    It was frustrating for him, but even more so for Chelsea fans as they watched their team waste a number of scoring chances.

    With two more games away from home remaining—against Liverpool and Cardiff City—can he find himself on to the scoresheet?

Willian's Importance to Chelsea Continues to Grow

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    It was significant that Willian started against Swansea City ahead of Oscar on Sunday.

    With Eden Hazard injured, Jose Mourinho opted for two wingers, Andre Schurrle and Salah, as part of Chelsea's three attacking midfielders, with Willian through the middle.

    A few months ago, it would have been unimaginable, yet such has been Willian's form and influence, it was he whom Mourinho turned to over his compatriot Oscar.

    While the latter's performances have dropped off significantly, Willian goes from strength to strength.

    He was a defensive force against Swansea, but in attack helped the Blues move the ball forward and attack their opponents.

    From being a £30 million stick with which to beat Tottenham Hotspur fans—Willian turned his back on Spurs at the last moment to join Chelsea last summer—he is now a key part of this team and the Blues look weaker whenever he doesn't feature.

Chelsea Are Back in Contention to Lift the Premier League

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    Following away defeats to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace in March, it seemed Chelsea's title hopes were all but gone.

    With Liverpool defeating Manchester City just hours before Chelsea's own victory, it means the Blues are back firmly in with a shout to lift the Premier League trophy for a fourth time.

    City currently sit in third with 70 points, five points behind Chelsea and with two games in hand, while Liverpool are two points clear at the top with 77.

    Chelsea travel to Anfield on April 27, and victory against the Reds would more than likely put their title destiny in their own hands.

    This title race is going down to the wire and after some slip-ups in recent weeks, Chelsea now know they are going to have a major say in where the league trophy resides.

Swansea Aren't Too Good to Go Down

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    Swansea City have won plenty of plaudits during their three years in the Premier League.

    Plaudits do not win games, though, and Garry Monk's side is locked firmly in a battle to avoid the drop, sitting three points above the relegation zone.

    Cardiff City and Fulham both won this weekend, pulling Swansea further into the scrap. The Swans could have done with getting at least a point against Chelsea.

    They play neat football, but against Chelsea there was very little end product. Sure, they played with 10 men for much of the game, yet they were guilty of overplaying at times when a more direct approach could have caught out the Blues.

    They're going to need to battle for every point between now and the end of the campaign, and attractive, passing football or not, it's points on the board that will prove their savior.

    Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes