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Costa and Falcao concerns shouldn’t stop Chelsea at home to Swansea

07 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Costa and Falcao concerns shouldn’t stop Chelsea at home to Swansea

Jose Mourinho's men are peerless when it comes to winning through resolve - an opening-day scalp looks unlikely for the Welsh side

Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to Fiorentina at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday concluded what was an inauspicious pre-season.

The Premier League champions failed to win in five matches – including last week’s Community Shield loss to Arsenal – while Diego Costa is struggling for fitness before the new campaign has even got under way.

Manager Jose Mourinho claims he is unconcerned with his side’s form – he thanked his midweek opposition for “a good training session” – but it is hardly ideal, either.

6/4 – Chelsea to win the Premier League

The situation regarding Costa and his tweaking hamstrings, in particular, is a worry.

Having been protected towards the end of last season as Chelsea strolled to the title and then enjoyed a summer without tournament football, the striker should have returned this season in good nick.

That he hasn’t suggests an underlying issue to his long-standing problem.

It is possible that a combination of his indefatigable playing style and broad build – plus his seemingly perennially-irate manner – leaves him susceptible to muscle strains.

But this is an issue he has had to contend with his Atletico Madrid days and it would be very surprising if preventative measures haven’t been put in place by either the player or the club. (Ryan Giggs famously took up yoga.)

The burden of replacing Costa – who scored 20 goals in 24 starts in the league last season – then, is likely to fall on loan signing Radamel Falcao.

7/2 – Radamel Falcao to be first goalscorer against Swansea

The Colombian should feel the benefit of having a full season of Premier League football behind him, but thoughts that he will return to something like the player of three years ago might be overestimating the powers of even a great manager like Mourinho.

Those who suggested Falcao’s struggles at Manchester United were down to manager Louis van Gaal keeping him on the periphery will have realised from his laboured performances for his national team in the Copa America – where he was captain – that the player is responsible, too.

Falcao’s determination – which is not in question – counts for nothing if his injury-hit body can only react to his brain’s instructions at a laboured pace.

Mourinho is a football manager, not a faith healer. Not to mention that the Portuguese’s teams have never been set up to benefit a wily poacher.

Falcao will be required to run in behind – something he was either unwilling or unable to do last season – in order to help the deep-defending Blues get higher up the pitch.

But are these issues likely to stop Chelsea from beginning their title defence with three points against Swansea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday night?

Probably not.

4/11 – Chelsea to beat Swansea

Not only is history on their side – the defending champions have never lost their opening game in 23 Premier League seasons – but the Blues are peerless when it comes to winning through organisation and resolve.

Garry Monk, one of the game’s outstanding emerging managers after leading the Welsh side to a record points total and eighth place last season, is determined to create history once again.

Doing so will be difficult, of course, although the Swans showed their progress this summer by beating out a host of other clubs to secure the signing of talented Ghana forward André Ayew on a free transfer from Marseille.

Monk and his side set the tone for their fine season last year with a fine 2-1 opening-day win against United at Old Trafford 12 months ago.

Despite their underwhelming form, it is unlikely Mourinho and his team – which will include current PFA Player of the Year Eden Hazard – will be anywhere near as charitable.

10/1 – Swansea to top the Premier League without Big 6

Premier League betting

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