Chelsea 1-0 Swansea: Antonio Rudiger's goal enough as Antonio Conte sent to the stands
By Adam Bate at Stamford Bridge
Last Updated: 30/11/17 12:04am
Chelsea secured a workmanlike 1-0 win over lowly Swansea in the Premier League on Wednesday thanks to Antonio Rudiger's second-half goal at Stamford Bridge.
Rudiger nodded home his first Premier League goal early in the second half after N'Golo Kante's speculative shot deflected into his path off the head of Wilfried Bony.
The scoreline did not truly reflect Chelsea's dominance as Antonio Conte, who was sent to the stands in the first half, took the opportunity to rest Eden Hazard and Cesar Azpilicueta.
Chelsea: Courtois (6), Cahill (7), Rudiger (8), Alonso (7), Christensen (7), Zappacosta (7), Fabregas (7), Kante (7), Pedro (7), Willian (7), Morata (7).
Subs used: Moses (5), Hazard (5), Drinkwater (5).
Swansea: Fabianski (7), Van Der Hoorn (7), Mawson (7), Naughton (6), Olsson (6), Ki (7), Carroll (6), Mesa (5), Sanches (3), Ayew (5), Bony (5).
Subs used: Fer (6), McBurnie (6), Routledge (n/a).
Man of the match: Antonio Rudiger.
The win keeps Chelsea in third while Swansea stay one off the bottom having never really looked likely to claim the three points that would have moved them out of the relegation zone.
Chelsea paid tribute to former coach Dermot Drummy before kick-off, following his passing at the age of 56 earlier in the week, and they were soon into their stride. Lukasz Fabianski was forced into six first-half saves while the away team failed to muster even an effort on goal.
Chelsea made four changes, with Cesar Azpilicueta and Eden Harzard starting on the bench alongside Tiemoue Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater. Antonio Rudiger, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro and Willian came into the XI. Swansea named an unchanged XI.
The best of the Poland international's stops came from Alvaro Morata midway through the half when he the goalkeeper tipped over the striker's improvised volley.
That resulted in a Chelsea corner but it was the failure to award the home side another such decision just before the interval that saw Conte sent to the stands for his complaints.
He was celebrating soon after when Rudiger gave Chelsea the lead and the only surprise was that the Blues were unable to add to it with Morata spurning a number of chances.
The Spanish striker has scored eight Premier League goals to Swansea's seven so far this season and it was he who went closer to adding to his tally on Wednesday.
His wastefulness made for some nervy moments late on as Paul Clement's side searched for an equaliser but they could fashion no clear openings and Chelsea secured a deserved win.
- Cesar Azpilicueta didn't start a Premier League game for Chelsea for the first time since December 2015, having played 90 minutes in each of their last 74 top-flight matches.
- Chelsea have scored eight headed goals in the Premier League this season; more than any other side.
- Swansea failed to score in any of their four Premier League games in November, the only team not to do so in the competition this month.
- Only three clubs have scored fewer goals after 14 games of a Premier League season than Swansea City (7) this season: Derby (5 in 2007-08), Bradford (5 in 2000-01) and Man City (6 in 1995-96).
Antonio Conte: "I saw that the opponent was wasting time and that is the reason I spoke a few times with the fourth official. I didn't see that the situation hadn't changed and I was frustrated with the fourth official. For this reason, I have to apologise to him and the referee. In that moment, I was angry but I know that is it right to apologise to them."
Paul Clement: "I thought for long periods we defended very well. We were obviously under a lot of pressure and Chelsea had a lot of near misses. We're frustrated and disappointed with the nature of the goal when we have been defending well over recent games. At the season we conceded a couple of set plays but we put things right."
"After that though, we didn't collapse, we kept defending well and we were just waiting for that opportunity because, at 1-0, you're still in the game. We tried to create some opportunities but they were few and far between but the players put in a big effort."
Iain Dowie: "For 70 minutes it was very one sided but they never really tested Fabianski. Van der Hoorn and Alfie Mawson were making clearance after clearance and putting their bodies across the line, but then they went to sleep and it was a poor goal when Paul Clement looks at it."
Man of the match - Antonio Rudiger
It was not a night for sparkling play from the Premier League champions but nobody did more to contribute to the win than Antonio Rudiger. The German defender, one of four players introduced to the team as Conte rotated his squad, did his job defensively and popped up with his first Premier League goal to make the breakthrough.
Chelsea supporters are not used to watching Premier League games and not seeing Cesar Azpilicueta on the pitch - he had played every minute of the last 74 in the competition prior to Wednesday night. But Rudiger's efforts in that position on the right side of the defence ensured that his absence did not cost the home side any points.
Chelsea will be in action live on Sky Sports this weekend as they host Newcastle on Saturday while Swansea travel to Stoke in the Premier League.