It’s still extremely early days in the 2016-17 Premier League season, but Manchester City, by virtue of their 2-1 victory over Manchester United on Saturday, have staked their claim to the title of “the team to beat.”
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While Pep Guardiola‘s side was pretty clearly on a different level than Jose Mourinho’s men, the jury is still out on Chelsea, the third title-contending side with a brand new manager, Antonio Conte. The challenge — Swansea City — won’t be as stout as the Manchester derby, but it will mean a return to the Liberty Stadium, where the Blues were turned over in a 1-0 defeat last April.
Since that day in the spring, the following has happened at Stamford Bridge: Guus Hiddink left and was replaced by Conte; N'Golo Kante arrived ($44 million); Eden Hazard has been reminded he’s an absolutely brilliant footballer (two goals in three games); Diego Costa is still scoring goals (also two in three games) and getting under the skin of opponents (two yellow cards in three games, plus one or two should-have-been sendings-off); and David Luiz is back ($40 million) and could make his Chelsea re-debut on Sunday. Ahead of facing Swansea on Sunday, they are the last remaining side not named Man City with a 100 percent record.
As for the Swans, they’ve followed up an opening day victory over Burnley with back-to-back losses, to Hull City and Leicester City, and find themselves 16th in the league table. No side in the PL has scored fewer goals (2) than Swansea this season (West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City have each scored just two goals, in four games), both of which came courtesy of Leroy Fer. Spanish striker Borja Baston, for whom the Swans paid $20 million to Atletico Madrid in the summer, was meant to fix those goalscoring woes, but the 24-year-old is yet to make his PL debut due to a lack of fitness, and is expected to be unavailable again on Sunday.
INJURIES: Swansea — DOUBTFUL: Borja Baston (fitness) | Chelsea — OUT: Kurt Zouma (knee surgery)