Chelsea 3 Swansea 1 - Saturday 25 February 2016
I confess to feeling super excited at the prospect of seeing Super Frank Lampard at the Bridge at half time, as he returned in a belated opportunity to say a proper farewell to us Chelsea supporters. But as far as the match was concerned, three points were the order of the day to maintain our command at the top of the Premier League, although a revitalised Swansea under Chelsea old boys Paul Clement and fan favourite Claude Makelele might have something to say about that.
Just the one change in the starting lineup, Matic making way for Fabregas on his 300th Premier League appearance, otherwise as expected with Courtois in goal and Azpilicueta, Luiz and captain Cahill in front of our big Belgian. Moses and Alonso were on the wings with Kante and Fabregas in midfield, leaving Pedro and Hazard supporting Costa up top. On the bench were Begovic, Zouma, JT, Loftus-Cheek, Matic, Willian and Batshuayi.
From the off we took command of the play as we moved the ball around with ease, and even when Swansea did start to come back into the game, we always looked in control of the situation. It was quick, one touch stuff, the ball not always finding its target, but the way we were controlling the game had me in no doubt that a goal would eventually come.
We were knocking on that door, chances from Fabregas and Pedro before, finally, after 20 minutes, Fabregas broke the deadlock, getting on the end of a few passes between our front three before the man of the moment rolled the ball past the stranded Fabianski in goal. I say finally because with all the chances we were creating the impatient fan inside of me just wanted us to get the rewards we deserved before the game swung the other way, as it so often and inevitably does.
I shouldn’t have worried though; we were dominant, and even that heart in the mouth moment when Luiz gave the ball away leaving an open path to our goal, up popped the diminutive Kante to mop up our curly haired one’s little indiscretion. That’s what we, and our pocket dynamo in particular, are good at; closing down and hassling opposition players in numbers, before quickly getting back into those so-effective attacking positions as soon as possession is regained. I love the way we work for each other and work so well as a unit.
We continued to push for a second goal, and it was Fabregas again who came close, Fabianski having to come to Swansea’s rescue. But the crowd were strangely quiet - in awe of our play? Or so little to get excited about, it was such one way traffic? It did seem like a bit of a training session at times. Swansea weren’t giving their fans much to make a noise about, and we all know the good folk of the valleys love a good bit of communal singing!
With one minute of stoppage time indicated, Swansea were awarded a free kick just as that minute was up. 30 seconds later the ball was in the back of the net, the result of a long ball diverted off the head of Llorente. Our defence were inexplicably switched off following a bit of a frantic call to organise from Luiz and Cahill. With Conte no doubt tearing up his planned half time team talk in favour of a wakeup call for the defence, our hard work in the first half was undone by a momentary lapse of concentration, even if the game had gone beyond the allotted one minute stoppage time. But on that overall first half performance we should get back on track with no problems.