Chelsea Beat Swansea City in Premier League; Cesc Fabregas Scores Only Goal

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IApril 28, 2018

Chelsea's Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas (2nd R) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Swansea City and Chelsea at The Liberty Stadium in Swansea, south Wales on April 28, 2018. (Photo by Geoff CADDICK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images)

Cesc Fabregas scored the only goal of the game as Chelsea kept their top-four hopes alive with a 1-0 win over struggling Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

The visitors took just four minutes to open the scoring. Eden Hazard picked out Fabregas, who curled a fine effort past goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.


Chelsea's Champions League Hopes Still Alive

Chelsea may have found it tough going at the Liberty Stadium, but they did just about enough to secure a vital three points.

The win keeps them in the hunt for a top-four finish, as they are now just two points behind Tottenham Hotspur in fourth and six points behind Liverpool in third, having played a game less than the Reds.

Chelsea welcome Liverpool to Stamford Bridge next, and the Reds go into the game on the back of a Champions League semi-final second leg at Roma.

It remains to be seen how much that match will take out of Liverpool, but a win for Chelsea would give the Blues genuine hope they will be playing UEFA Champions League football next season. 


50 Premier League Goals for Fabregas

Fabregas scored just his third goal of the season on Saturday, but it was also the midfielder's 50th Premier League goal:

B/R Football @brfootball

Fabtastic 👌 https://t.co/UP6ebQHhgU

The point came when the Blues won possession in midfield, Hazard played a great ball to Fabregas, and he curled past Fabianski.

It was a brilliant finish by Fabregas and vindicated Antonio Conte's decision to line his team up in a 3-5-2 formation.

Fabregas has previously explained how the formation works to his strengths, per Liam Twomey at ESPN FC:

Liam Twomey @liam_twomey

Fabregas when I asked him if 3-5-2 played to his strengths in December: "It allows me to go forward, to get into spaces where I feel I can be more dangerous. I can get into areas that I feel I can be closer to players like Eden and Alvaro. We can create things between us.” #cfc

It wasn't just Fabregas who enjoyed himself; Hazard was a real threat throughout, and the margin of victory could have been greater if Chelsea had been more clinical in front of goal.


Both Teams Struggle at Sodden Swansea

Chelsea started the game pretty brightly but got sloppier as the game wore on, and the conditions certainly looked to be a factor.

The rain became heavier throughout the match and clearly affected the pitch, as noted by Goal's Nizaar Kinsella:

Nizaar Kinsella @NizaarKinsella

Hard to overstate how poor this pitch is. It is really all about battling for both sides. There's waterlogged sections of it where the ball slows right down. Both sides become poor in possession. Someone like Hazard is having to work on just competing with a lead to defend. #CFC

The pace of the game slowed dramatically in the second half as the ball held up and both teams found it tough going.

Swansea did gain some momentum late in the second half when they tried to force an equaliser, but they could not find a way past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.


Relegation Battle Hots Up

Swansea could have relegated West Brom with victory over Chelsea, but defeat means they end the day only five points clear of the Premier League's bottom side.

Southampton's win over Bournemouth and Stoke City's point at Liverpool means the bottom three all picked up points to turn the heat up on Swansea.

Swansea still control their fate, but two of their remaining three Premier League fixtures are against fellow strugglers Southampton and Stoke.

Those two games will have a huge bearing on which clubs stay up. Although Swansea have improved since Carlos Carvalhal arrived, they still have work to do to stay in the Premier League.