Premier League Preview: Chelsea v. Swansea City

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  • Chelsea have been reduced to 10 men in three of their last six meetings with Swansea in all competitions.
  • Chelsea took part in the highest scoring Premier League game on December 26 when they drew 4-4 with Aston Villa in 2007.
  • Frank Lampard has played more games on December 26 than any other player in Premier League history (15).

Chelsea will look to close the two point gap on league leaders Liverpool when they welcome Swansea City to Stamford Bridge on Thursday (9:45am ET live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra).

Following the 0-0 draw with Arsenal on Monday, the Blues sit fourth in the table, seven spots ahead of the Swans. Jose Mourinho’s side have dropped only two points at home all season, keeping The Special One’s home unbeaten streak at 68 games. Which doesn’t bode well for Swansea.

The fact that Michael Laudrup’s club have been inconsistent on the road this season will only complicate the issue further for the Swans, who are suffering from a rash of injuries and the rigors of playing in the Europa League. The combination of the two has made Swansea a completely unpredictable squad. Sometimes they look like world beaters, other times the look like a Championship side.

But while Swansea have never beaten Chelsea in four previous league meetings, Stamford Bridge is the venue where they secured a 2-0 victory in the semi-final of last year’s League Cup – the necessary result to help them go on and win the competition.

If they’re to win on Thursday it will have to be without Michu (ankle), Michel Vorm (knee), Nathan Dyer (ankle) and Gary Monk (knee), who are all sidelined with injury.

For Chelsea, Ryan Bertrand (knock) is out while Marco van Ginkel (knee) remains a longterm absentee with an ACL injury. Nevertheless, expect Mourinho to rotate his squad given the close temporal proximity of this match to the Arsenal match.

What They’re Saying

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: “OK, we don’t go to Christmas as leaders, but we go with evolution because last season the championship was already lost by this point. Now, we are there.”

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup: “We are talking about one of the favourites for the title, but other teams have gone there and done well and I still think we have a chance. We have fond memories of that pitch.”

Prediction

Normally, I’d say Swansea could give Chelsea a game in this one. They’re a great footballing side and one that’s capable of shocking anyone. Except when Vorm is out because for my money, Gerhard Tremmel is the worst goal-keeper in the league. A bit harsh but true. The Blues will roll.

Three seriously injured, 120 detained in Bruges hooligan riot

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BRUSSELS (AP) Authorities are investigating a hooligan riot which seriously injured three people and forced Brugge police to detain 120 following the match between Club Brugge and Antwerp.

[ MORE: Mbappe wins Golden Boy ]

Local police chief Dirk Van Nuffel says one policeman was among the seriously wounded as authorities sought to contain a brawl between Belgian fans reinforced by others who had come from the Netherlands.

By Monday morning all were released but investigators were still seeking to see who was at the core of the fighting. Van Nuffel says such hooligan fighting “hadn’t been seen for years.”

Everton fires Ronald Koeman

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A 5-2 home loss versus Arsenal sent Everton into the Premier League drop zone, and that’s apparently a bridge too far for the Toffees when it comes to their managerial position.

Ronald Koeman is out at Goodison Park.

[ MORE: Mbappe named Golden Boy ]

Everton sits 18th in the Premier League with eight points, it’s minus-11 goal differential second-worst in the top flight. Its 18 goals conceded are third-worst, and only three clubs have scored fewer goals than its seven.

The Toffees won two rounds in the Europa League, beating Ružomberok and Hajduk Split, but have lost to Atalanta and Lyon while drawing Apollon Limassol in Group E play.

Everton faces Chelsea in League Cup play on Wednesday before a critical early season match at Leicester City on Sunday.

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The Best: Neymar, Ronaldo, Messi — Is there a front-runner?

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While France Football has its Ballon d’Or winner somewhere on a 30-man shortlist, FIFA’s “Best” men’s player is down to an unsurprising three ahead of Monday afternoon’s ceremony.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar are up for the award, and there was no major summer tournament outside of the Confederations Cup — only Ronaldo participated — to help tilt the scales in one’s favor this summer.

[ MORE: Mbappe named Golden Boy ]

Of course, Ronaldo claimed another UEFA Champions League crown, but was far from the simple standout of the club. In international play, both Ronaldo and Messi’s World Cup qualifying campaigns came down to the wire while Neymar captained Brazil’s dominant ride through CONMEBOL.

The award, which is said to be for on- and off-field behavior, was voted on by national coaches, national captains, select members of the media and fans.

Ronaldo is the favorite according to hardware, while Messi’s numbers and Neymar’s playmaking both can lay claim to the throne.

Stats since start of 2017

Lionel Messi

Club goals: 46
Club assists: 16
Country caps: 6
Country goals: 4
Accolades: World Cup qualifier, Copa Del Rey winner

Neymar

Club goals: 24
Club assists: 21
Country caps: 6
Country goals: 2
Country assists: 3
Accolades: World Cup qualifier, Copa Del Rey winner

Cristiano Ronaldo

Club goals: 31
Club assists: 7
Country caps: 11
Country goals: 11
Country assists: 4
Accolades: Confederations Cup semifinal, World Cup qualifier, Champions League winner, La Liga winner

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Mbappe wins Golden Boy over Rashford, Pulisic, Gabriel Jesus

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Paris Saint-Germain, France, and (former) Monaco starlet Kylian Mbappe has claimed the Golden Boy Award over Ousmane Dembele, Christian Pulisic, and others.

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The Golden Boy is chosen from the top Under-21 players in Europe, and the short list had the above names and 22 more including Gabriel Jesus, Gianluigi Donnarumma, and Marcus Rashford.

Mbappe, still 18 until Dec. 20, has four goals and four assists this season for PSG after scoring 26 goals with 14 assists for Monaco last season. He also has a goal for France.

The teenager likely played the biggest role at the biggest club last season, though Donnarumma was exceptional at Milan, Jesus’ injury conspired against him at Man City, and Marcus Rashford was very good for United.

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