Football is a game of fate and fortune, circumstance and chance. Just imagine if young Scott Wootton hadn’t dropped Ramires in the dying seconds of Wednesday’s Capital One Cup clash between Chelsea and Manchester United.
The Blues would have been on the wrong end of a second 3-2 reverse to their rivals in the space of a few days and would head to Swansea City on Saturday smarting from a hat-trick of successive defeats and a host of unsavoury off-field headlines which continue to take the gloss off some of the gorgeous football they are playing.
A premature League Cup exit would also have meant another one of a potential seven pieces of silverware would have bitten the dust and depending on earlier events at Old Trafford, the current Premier League leaders might need to win at the Liberty Stadium to reclaim top spot.
Yet Chelsea have had all summer to ponder the ifs, buts and maybes with penalty shoot-outs, sixth-placed finishes, £80 million squad redevelopments and so on. The fact of the matter is that by the end of the 120 minutes on Wednesday, it was all high-fives and high praise after edging another absorbing encounter. It may only have been the Capital One Cup against a depleted United, but certain games in certain circumstances mean much more than just the win.
What we shouldn’t forget here, of course, is that Swansea themselves will also have a spring in their step after an accomplished 3-1 triumph over Liverpool at Anfield in what was only a third victory in their last nine – with one of them coming against Crawley Town.
I generally like to watch the games I preview to see how right – but usually wrong – my pre-match proclamations were and I’ll especially appreciate sitting down to watch two teams as aesthetically pleasing as this duo. Expect to see plenty of rolls out from the keepers, a load of five-foot-something midfielders and 15 passes where one would do, but which way this game goes could come down to the fact that Chelsea’s version of the beautiful game cost a few hundred million pounds more than that of the hosts.
Certainly bwin’s 3Way football betting market suggests such an outcome, with Chelsea 3/4 favourites, Swansea 7/2 and the draw at 13/5, and like a faithful labrador who just wants his belly tickled every now and again, I shall not be disagreeing with the masters’ orders.
Last season the Swans ruffled a few feathers at their place in beating Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool and drawing with Tottenham and Chelsea, but since their opening blitz this time around it’s been one win in seven, which does little to appease rumours of discord in the camp.
I have seen Swansea play a couple of times recently and I’ve formed an opinion of them that they are a less effective version of the pretty but ineffective team from last term. Across this seven-game league stretch Swansea have conceded in all seven and registered just seven themselves and that form will not be good enough to stop Chelsea finishing the weekend atop their lofty perch.
We may only just have broached November but already the Blues have clocked up 42 goals in all competitions and the ‘Three Amigos’ of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar just keep getting better. With Comedy Dave Luiz at the back, there’s always the chance of a goal against and in four of Chelsea’s last five outings they’ve fallen behind. Swansea are 33/20 to score first on Saturday.
Roberto Di Matteo’s men have also shipped 12 goals over their past five matches and I think Swansea will score here in a losing effort. That immediately highlights the Chelsea win with over 2.5 goals at 6/4 but I think they’ll click into gear and cruise this, which is why the best bit of business for me is Chelsea to win both halves at 7/2.
Punters registering with bwin can claim a free £20 bet and placing this on Chelsea to beat Swansea in both halves on Saturday, could see you end up trousering £90.
If you do fancy Swansea to get something, then they are 11/10 to avoid defeat. However, I think Chelsea will be too good and I’ll be on them that 7/2 shout, with a cheeky couple of quid on a 3-1 victory at 23/2 as well.