Swansea 0-1 Chelsea report - 'The season can still be salvaged'

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Despite a cracking early goal from Cesc Fabregas and coming away from the Liberty Stadium with three points, I felt a sense of disappointment following this hard-fought victory.

29th Apr 2018

That is a result of Liverpool’s failure to beat Stoke in the early kick-off, which ensured we closed the gap on the Merseyside club to six points with Jurgen Klopp's side set to visit Stamford Bridge next week.

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The sense of disappointment comes from having a vastly inferior goal difference to Liverpool, and performances such as this one at Swansea prove why this is the case.

Having scored after four minutes with a sublime goal created by Eden Hazard and sumptuously finished by Fabregas, we failed to push on and dismiss a poor side and instead made the game infinitely more difficult than it needed to be.

Our refusal to put dross to the sword has plagued our points tally and goal difference and is ultimately the reason we won’t qualify for the Champions League next season barring an incredible turn of results.

Antonio Conte’s constant reminder that we ‘must suffer a lot’ has seen us become defensive in games against teams that should be dismissed in the way Manchester City appear to beat the majority of sides in the league.

Even during our title-winning campaign, we played scintillating football which is a far cry to the mundane garbage we have produced for the vast majority of 2017/18.

Giourd or Morata?

The debate of Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata will rumble on until the end of the season. In a changed system which accommodated an extra midfielder and freed Hazard, Giroud was preferred to Morata.

Despite a couple of useful knockdowns, the Frenchman was unable to make a significant impact on the game, with his lack of speed a real hindrance to the attack.

While Hazard is explosive from a standing start, he is not lightning quick and there is a definite argument for Morata’s extra yard of pace over Giroud when a 3-5-2 system is deployed, instead of the usual 3-4-3 without Willian or Pedro, both of whom offer extra speed.

It was evident that we lacked any threat in behind the Swansea defence and, considering our blistering counter-attacking speed had been a hallmark of Conte’s Chelsea, seeing such a slow attack only gives Conte more questions than answers for the remaining fixtures and the FA Cup Final in particular.

Both Giroud and Morata, as I suggested last week, appear to be more comfortable as reserve options rather than the main man up-front, so it is a difficult task for Conte to select the more suitable player on a game-by-game basis. 

Read More: Premier League Players Who Are 'Too Good To Go Down'

Three wins needed

With three league games to go, three wins is the only acceptable outcome if the faint hopes of Champions League football are to be secured.

The Blues' form has improved since the awful performances at home to Tottenham and West Ham, and it is only four wins (including the FA Cup Final) and qualification for the Champions League that can provide light at the end of a tunnel in a season which has dragged on to the point of boredom.

It could end positively, but I don’t think it will. Liverpool at home next week is huge and, fitting with our performances in the big games this season, I do not trust Conte’s tactics nor this squad to conjure an acceptable result.

It’s the hope which kills fans though, and where there’s hope there’s light.

The season can be salvaged. It’s up to the players and Conte to do their bit, and be in a position to take advantage of any mistakes made by our rivals.

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