Chelsea battled in vain and go out of the League Cup on a whimper, as Swansea’s first-leg superiority was enough to book their place in the low-key inaugural Capital One Cup Final against Bradford City.
Five Chelsea players were wearing gloves, with only four in short-sleeved shirts, and Chelsea needed to brave the cold in order to progress, but Rafael Benitez’s talks evidently lacked the fire to motivate as Chelsea suffered the blues in south Wales. Not to mention the gloss of a Swansea victory was overshadowed by controversy with Hazard and a Swansea ball-boy.
But on with the football statistics, and Chelsea have scored 16 goals in the run up to the League Cup semi-finals, whilst Swansea have only managed 12 in getting to this stage thus far, but the Londoners have failed to score in over 30% of matches against Swansea.
It required the likes of Eden Hazard and Juan Mata to spark Chelsea into life, with the latter having an influence on six goals in just five appearances in this competition.
Chelsea have won nearly 40% of the previous 23 matches against Swansea, but away from home, the Blues have won only 18% of the matches played at the Liberty Stadium, so an early start and an early goal was imperative if Chelsea were to have any hope.
If Chelsea thought Swansea were here to sit deep and defend their two-goal advantage, they were in for a nasty surprise. Committed to their attacking ethos, and led by in-form Michu, Swansea instantly set out to increase their lead.
Where Chelsea attacked, Swansea sought to counter, and nearly to great effect in the opening stages.
Cech and Azpilicueta had to be awake to deny Michu and then Wayne Routledge from making the mission impossible, but with the steady concentration of the back-line, Chelsea could still breathe.
Sandwiched in between the host’s chances was a penalty shout for the visitors.
Demba Ba trickled his way into the box, and though there was contact, a theatrical tumble dissuaded Chris Foy to offer any chance for Lampard to further close the gap on Bobby Tambling.
Under Chris Foy, Chelsea have only lost two of the 26 games refereed by him, but have had three red cards and conceded a penalty in the last five matches with the Lancashire man in the middle.
The onus was well and truly on the European Champions to bring the game to Wales, but apart from the odd Ramires long-range hit, Swansea stood firm as the first half wore on.
Rash challenges came in as Swansea enjoyed containing Chelsea, with neither keeper being truly tested.
Chelsea needed to step up the intensity in the second half, but Benitez’s half-time team-talk and substitutions suggested little of the sort.
And as time wore on, Chelsea were rash and hesitant in their passes, booting them up long more in hope.
The substitutions that eventually came proved to be neither attacking or positive, with Luiz coming on for Ivanovic, followed by Torres and Bertrand coming on for Oscar and Cole as the game looked to be out of reach for the Blues.
But there was one last twist. With time running out, a Swansea ball boy instantly shot to fame by lying flat on the ball, obstructing Eden Hazard from getting to it to hurry the game up.
A swipe at the ball underneath the kid’s body was enough to warrant the red card for violent conduct. Time ran out on Chelsea, but this saga may run on for some time yet.
- Chelsea 0-2 Swansea City (thechelseachronicle.wordpress.com)