Francesco Guidolin thinks Chelsea are getting closer to their best form and warned his Swansea City players they are not safe yet ahead of the meeting between the two sides at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
A run of 10 points from their last five games has moved the hosts up to 37 points, 10 clear of Sunderland in the Premier League’s bottom three.
Guidolin, though, is certain that is still not enough to ensure safety as they prepare to face a Chelsea team he believes are recovering nicely under Guus Hiddink, who has not tasted defeat in his 14 league matches in charge.
“Football is difficult, it is not easy to win every year,” the former Udinese boss said of Swansea’s opponents. “To have a season when you are not top happens. Chelsea are now playing very well and it makes it a difficult game for us.
“[The gap] is not 10 points because the other teams have games [in hand] to play. Maybe we need one more win, maybe one more point, maybe three wins, maybe 40 points. We don’t know, we just know 37 is not enough.
“My opinion is that I can only think match by match and I hope to have the possibility to make many points to finish the season well – that is my dream.”
Chelsea – who earlier this week confirmed Antonio Conte as their new manager from next season – thumped bottom-of-the-table Aston Villa 4-0 last time out, a match which saw Matt Miazga make his debut.
The United States international is desperate to sample more first-team football with the champions, who are 10th in the table – 10 points adrift of the top four with seven games to play.
“I was very happy to make my debut for Chelsea and was thrilled that I was able to be part of the three points and contribute,” Miazga said to the Telegraph.
“Now I look forward to working hard in training to get more opportunities and establish myself as a player. It was a great experience and I got my feet under the ground and I look forward to building on it.
“There were no celebrations though, you’ve got to get ready for the next day and recover. Family and friends called me so that was great. [USA boss] Jurgen Klinsmann gave me a text and coaches from the [New York] Red Bulls academy also got in touch to congratulate me.
“We are very excited about the arrival of Antonio Conte and the prospect of him coming but he has to finish his job with the Italian federation and we have to finish this season.
“He came to the training ground and said hello to the players. It was brief introductions. He said hello to all the players, it was good to meet him.”
Swansea should welcome back Andre Ayew (ankle), but Jordi Amat (knock) and Leon Britton (heel) are doubts. Diego Costa is suspended for the visitors, who will check on Gary Cahill (knock), Eden Hazard (thigh) and John Terry (calf).
The two teams drew 2-2 at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend of the season when they were both managed by their former bosses Jose Mourinho and Garry Monk.
Key Opta stats:
– Swansea City have never beaten Chelsea in a league match during their time in the Premier League (D3 L6).
– The Blues won 5-0 in this fixture last season, their biggest away win over Swansea in any competition.
– Chelsea are looking to keep a fourth consecutive clean sheet at the Liberty Stadium (in all competitions).
– Swansea playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson (10) is the first Icelandic player to score 10+ goals in a Premier League season since Eidur Gudjohnsen in 2004-05 (12).
– Swansea’s last five home league games have produced a total of just six goals, with no side scoring more than once in any of those fixtures.