Bridge Banter: Chelsea can improve dodgy away form at Swansea

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Ball boy Charlie Morgan is led away after being kicked by Chelsea’s Eden Hazard Ball boy Charlie Morgan is led away after being kicked by Chelsea’s Eden Hazard

After the jubilation surrounding midweek European footballing success, the mundane – but no less important – demands of bread-and-butter league action loom for Chelsea.

Sunday’s outing to Swansea gives the Blues a chance to improve their decidedly dodgy recent away form, and keep pace with title favourites Man City and Liverpool.

It’s also a chance for Eden Hazard to avoid Welsh ballboys as he’ll miss the match after picking up a calf injury in Tuesday night’s 2-0 victory over Paris St-Germain at the Bridge, which put Chelsea into the Champions League semi-finals.

Hazard came off after 18 minutes of the PSG game with a muscle injury… but Andre Schurrle stepped in as deputy, scoring one goal and urging his team-mates on to get the vital second which won the match on the away-goals rule.

The memory of the Blues’ Carling Cup defeat in Wales a year ago, and Hazard’s red card for trying to kick the ball out from underneath a time-wasting ballboy, is still raw for the Belgian winger.

So he won’t be sorry to skip the match and pace his recovery to try to be back in action for Chelsea’s next home game, against Sunderland on April 20.

Tuesday night’s thrilling European tie went right to the wire, with PSG guilty of trying to waste time themselves during the second half; substitutions taking an age, and no urgency being shown to retrieve balls for throw-ins.

Then Demba Ba, flung on with Fernando Torres in a last desperate roll of the dice by Jose Mourinho, managed to scuff a shot home, triggering wild celebrations and a deafening singalong to the Madness song One Step Beyond at the final whistle.

European battles under the floodlights in SW6 have become magical events for Chelsea fans.

The Blues have reached the Champions League semis in seven of the last 11 seasons, and Hazard should be fit just in time.

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