Chelsea picked up a 1-0 home win over Swansea City this evening courtesy of an Antonio Rudiger goal to ensure the Blues managed an immediate return to their Premier League winning ways.
Antonio Conte was sent to the stands for the first time since becoming Chelsea manager in a first half full of decisions that the Italian found infuriating. The manager’s concerns were arguably fair given Swansea’s time-wasting tendencies and an especially poor decision that saw Neil Swarbrick award the visitors with a goal kick despite Alfie Mawson deflecting a ball behind his own goal, however Conte will be relieved that his team kept their cool to go on and win the game. Assistant manager Angelo Alessio took Conte’s place barking orders at the Chelsea players for the second half.
Following a heart-warming minute’s applause for the late Dermot Drummy at an otherwise freezing Stamford Bridge, Chelsea dominated proceedings but couldn’t find a goal until the 55th minute. An N’Golo Kante shot was deflected by a Swansea defender but German defender Antonio Rudiger reacted quickly to dive forwards and head the ball home at the far post. The goal was nothing more than Chelsea deserved after nearly an hour of dominance, relaxing the Stamford Bridge crowd.
— Breathe Chelsea (@BreatheChels) November 29, 2017
Swansea lacked any real cutting edge throughout that opening hour, demonstrating why they are the league’s lowest scorers. Though Chelsea didn’t test Fabianksi as much as they perhaps should have done during the first half especially, the Blues were able to play with complete confidence such was the toothless nature of their opposition. Renato Sanches, who was hooked at half time by Paul Clement, was especially poor for Swansea. The midfielder’s display was a positive to Chelsea supporters for two reasons, one being his lack of threat in this game, the other that Conte didn’t get his wish of bringing the young prospect to the Premier League on loan himself.
Following Rudiger’s first ever league goal for Chelsea, Alvaro Morata had a couple of chances to extend the lead soon afterwards only to be denied by Lukas Fabianski. The scoreline could have been far higher tonight if it wasn’t for the Polish goalkeeper. Eden Hazard was rested along with Cesar Azpilicueta for this midweek fixture, and though Chelsea did understandably miss the superior attacking ability that the Belgian would bring to any side until he was brought on after 80 minutes, the fact that three points were won regardless means Conte’s rotation can be considered a success.
Things certainly weren’t as comfortable as they should have been during that final ten minutes once Hazard came on along with Danny Drinkwater though. Chelsea’s tempo remained relatively lacklustre and once Swansea realised they were in with a chance of a point they did manage to create a couple of opportunities that had Thibaut Courtois concerned. A cross towards Wilfried Bony at the far post was the closest the visitors came, but the Ivorian couldn’t quite meet the ball to head home.
That late spell dampened the mood of the home crowd somewhat and emphasised the danger of Chelsea’s failure to put the game to bed. However, now that the three points are in the bag Conte and his men can be satisfied and look ahead to Saturday’s meeting with Newcastle knowing that results are all that matters when looking to rescue the title race.