CHELSEA (4-2-3-1)COURTOIS, IVANOVIC, CAHILL, TERRY, AZPILICUETA, MATIC, FABREGAS, WILLIAN, OSCAR, HAZARD, COSTASWANSEA (4-2-3-1)AYEW, MONTERO, SIGURDSSON, DYER, SHELVEY, CORK, TAYLOR, FERNANDEZ, WILLIAMS, RANGEL, FABIANSKIChelsea begin the defence of their Barclays Premier League title and are bidding to retain it for the first time in their 110-year history, after four championship successes in the last 10 years.The Blues should be confident; in 23 opening-day fixtures in the Premier League they have lost just three, the most recent in August 1998, at Coventry. Since then, Chelsea have played 16 first-day fixtures, winning 14 and drawing two.And they last lost the first game of the season at Stamford Bridge in August 1993, when they were beaten 2-1 by Blackburn Rovers.More reasons for JosÈ Mourinho’s men to be confident are last season’s games against Swansea City; Chelsea won 4-2 at home against the Welshmen and 5-0 at the Liberty Stadium.Furthermore, in 13 visits to Stamford Bridge Swansea have won just once – in 1925. Since that victory 90 years ago, the Swans have drawn three and lost nine.Indeed, in the Premier League, Swansea have lost all four visits while conceding 11 goals and scoring just three. Overall they have lost on their last five visits, conceding 17.Chelsea have doubts over striker Diego Costa, who missed the 1-0 Community Shield defeat by Arsenal last weekend with a hamstring problem.Mourinho started with Loic Remy against the Gunners and could be tempted to give a first start to Radamel Falcao, signed on loan from AS Monaco – to replace the departed Didier Drogba – after a similar spell at Manchester United last season.Swansea, who lost their last two Premier League games of last season, will be tempted to give a league debut to Andre Ayew, signed in the summer from Marseille.
Top nine Premier League free transfers of the decade 2 REVEALED MONEY impact silverware 2 Asked how he got more out of Pogba in Russia than Jose Mourinho is managing to at Manchester United, the 49-year-old French said: “I think the rest of the world, and certainly in France, has an image of Paul Pogba that doesn’t really reflect who he is.“He’s been in the national team since 2013 and he’s always thought about the collective. There’s this idea that he’s a bit individualistic and only thinks about himself but that’s not the case at all. I think that’s one thing that needs to be said.“Another is that he arrived at the World Cup really prepared and he took on the mantle of leadership, on and off the pitch. He became a bit of a spokesman for the team and he can do that because he’s a good speaker. “I’ve spoken to him about his relationship with the media and I think he’s been unfairly criticised in the past. That’s why there has been this aggressive vibe and he’s had this strained relationship.“But criticism is part of the job and I think you learn to take that on board as you get more experienced. That’s what’s happened with him and I think he’s gained some respect. He joined us ready to become a world champion and he took the whole squad with him.” REVEALED Ronaldo warned Lukaku how hard scoring goals in Serie A would be before Inter move England’s most successful clubs of the past decade, according to trophies won BEST OF Forbes list reveals how much Mayweather, Ronaldo and Messi earned this decade RANKED Every time Ally McCoist lost it on air in 2019, including funny XI reactions ADVICE France coach Didier Deschamps has leapt to the defence of his World Cup “leader” Paul Pogba, describing him as a team player who has been misunderstood by some fans and the media.Deschamps was the guest of honour at the FIFA Football Conference in London, where more than 300 international coaches, including England’s Gareth Southgate and Wales boss Ryan Giggs, gathered on Sunday to discuss lessons learned from this summer’s World Cup. Which teams do the best on Boxing Day in the Premier League era? Deschamps says Pogba is a natural leader Every Championship club’s best signing of the decade, including Taarabt and Dack LATEST FOOTBALL NEWS Deschamps has defended Pogba Where Ancelotti ranks with every Premier League boss for trophies won The 25-year-old midfielder capped a superb World Cup campaign with the decisive third goal in the final against Croatia and his overall play for France was far more consistent and disciplined than anything United fans have seen from him since he rejoined the club for a then-world record £89million in 2016.And Pogba’s patchy club form has continued this season – superb one game, sloppy the next, while on Saturday he set up United’s opener only to lose the ball for Wolves’ equaliser.