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Chelsea ready to tackle Swansea

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Reuters

Chelsea will attempt to strengthen their Premier League title challenge when they face Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. Photo by: Eddie Keogh /Reuters

London – Chelsea's looming Champions League semi-final with Atletico Madrid will be put to one side as Jose Mourinho's side attempt to strengthen their Premier League title challenge at Swansea.

The Stamford Bridge club will head to South Wales on Sunday having been boosted by this week's memorable victory over Paris Saint-Germain that took them one step closer towards clinching European football's top prize for the second time in three years.

And they could receive a further lift immediately before kick-off when the outcome of Manchester City's trip to Liverpool is known.

Chelsea head into the latest round of matches in second place, two points behind leaders Liverpool and two points ahead of third-placed Manchester City, who have two games in hand.

With Liverpool playing Manchester City earlier on Sunday, a situation that could lead to at least one of Chelsea's title rivals dropping points, Jose Mourinho's side will look to take advantage at the Liberty Stadium.

Confidence is high after the way they overturned a two-goal deficit against PSG. But Chelsea's recent problems away from home ensure three points certainly cannot be taken for granted by the London club.

The Blues have lost their last three away matches, against Premier League strugglers Aston Villa and Crystal Palace before the 3-1 first leg defeat in the Parc des Princes. A return of one goal in those three games underlined why Mourinho remains concerned about his side's lack of forward power, despite following last weekend's 3-0 home win against Stoke with the 2-0 victory over PSG.

Once again the manager must decide which of his three forwards will get the nod to lead the line with Samuel Eto'o the favourite to start.

Demba Ba – scorer of the 87th minute goal that settled Tuesday's tie – and Fernando Torres will most likely again be on the bench.

Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are expected to be restored to the starting line-up after being ineligible to face PSG while Ramires also returns following a three-game domestic ban.

Angel Rangel is confident Swansea's home form will ensure they quickly confirm their Premier League status for another season.

The Welsh club are six points above the relegation zone before facing Chelsea on Sunday. After taking on the Blues, Swansea, who beat Norwich in their last home fixture, also have Aston Villa and Southampton to play at the Liberty before the end of the campaign.

And Spanish right-back Rangel feels those matches will determine which direction their struggling season will go.

“We know we are not safe,” he said. “We have five games left, three at home and two away. We have 15 points left to play for and we don't want to rely on other teams losing, we want to win.

“We can win games, especially down the Liberty, where we've got three left against Aston Villa and Southampton. I know we have Chelsea next, which is going to be a tough one, but we've got a chance.

“When teams around us play each other we know someone is going to get points – that's obvious. We have a gap above the relegation zone, it's not a lot, and we have to work hard until the end of the season.

“It's going to be vital to get some points at the Liberty. Those games are going to be very important.” – Sapa-AFP


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