Chelsea 2 Swansea 2: Three talking points
Three talking points as Chelsea are held to a 2-2 draw by Swansea City in their opening game of the season
Chelsea make sluggish start
All the signs in pre-season pointed to a Chelsea side still lacking match sharpness. Their performance in a 1-0 loss to Fiorentina during their final friendly in midweek showed signs of a side still coming to terms with a new season just under three months after Jose Mourinho’s side won the Premier League title. And unsurprisingly, despite a slight shift in gear, Chelsea were unable to find a way past Swansea. Garry Monk has a knack for getting his Welsh side seamlessly out of the starting blocks; remember their 2-1 win at Old Trafford on the opening day last year? Jefferson Montero’s pace, Jonjo Shelvey’s passing and Bafetimbi Gomis’s enthusiasm proved too much for a Chelsea side struggling to work the gear stick. Mourinho has another eight days to get his side fitter before their trip to Manchester City, or else risk losing ground on their title rivals in what looks like being one of the closest seasons in years.
Mourinho has been backing his medical staff on a regular basis over the past week. Diego Costa was the their fitness concern ahead of their Swansea City opener at Stamford Bridge after he missed the Community Shield and a friendly defeat by Fiorentina over the past week. Ultimately, though, Costa made the decision to play after Mourinho revealed his pre-match interview that he trusted his striker to make his own decision on a troublesome hamstring. When Thibaut Courtois required medical attention following a knee scare in the warm-up, Mourinho must have feared his Chelsea staff would be in for a busy evening. However, Costa looked surprisingly sprightly for a striker who has been managing a hamstring strain. This will fill the Portuguese coach with confidence, particularly as back-up strikers Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy look out-of-form. Fortunately, Courtois was able to start and made a number of decent saves to deny Bafetimbi Gomes and Andre Ayew. One can only imagine Arsene Wenger’s smirk broadening if Courtois did suffer a serious injury after Arsenal snapped up Petr Cech in an £11m deal from Chelsea. The Belgian was, however, sent off for a professional foul on Gomis in the second half.
Ayew looks a Premier League star
Swansea City have yet again completed a smart piece of transfer business after Ayew passed his Premier League test. The Ghana midfielder joined the Swans on a free transfer but arrived with a big reputation to fulfil. Monk has been attempting to divert pressure from the 25-year-old midfielder, who swapped Marseille for south Wales. He was charged with tormenting Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta, who is one of the Premier League’s most-dependable full-backs. It was a running battle throughout the game but Ayew showed the physical attributes required of a Premier League forward, whilst his distribution was good. The Ghana star hit double figures in Ligue 1 last season and you can see why after his first Premier League goal. Ayew was alert to pounce on Courtois’s parry from Bafetimbi Gomis’s header and showed the composure to get his feet sorted and lift a finish above a scrambling Chelsea defence. He will be a man to watch this season.