Belfast Telegraph

Monk plays down Chelsea form

Swansea manager Garry Monk says Chelsea's ordinary pre-season form will have no bearing on the start of their Barclays Premier League defence on Saturday.

The English champions failed to win any of their five pre-season games in 90 minutes, but Monk expects the "best Chelsea side" at Stamford Bridge as Swansea seek to begin building on last season's impressive eighth-placed finish - the best in the Welsh club's Premier League history.

"It doesn't mean anything," Monk said referring to Chelsea's winless run in pre-season.

"Man United won every single game in pre-season last year and we won at Old Trafford on the opening day.

"It's very difficult to read into pre-season games as teams are experimenting, organising and preparing.

"When you come into Premier League games it's a totally different animal. Players think differently and the approach and intensity is different, so we will prepare for the best Chelsea side and hopefully put on a good performance."

Swansea suffered few dark days last season when Monk, in his first full year in charge, guided the club to eighth and a record points tally.

But Chelsea handed out heavy defeats, winning 4-2 at Stamford Bridge early on in the season before romping to a 5-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium in January.

"Down there we were excellent for 45 minutes last season and if we can produce 90 minutes like that it will be great," Monk said.

"It doesn't come any tougher than starting at the home of the champions and they've set the standard.

"They've kept the squad together and added a few to it, and the way they won the league comfortably towards the end was testament to how good they were.

"It's a new season and a fresh start but hopefully we can take on the good things we did last year and try and improve on them and take it into each and every game."

Monk remains reluctant to say whether Swansea can improve on eighth place but he believes the squad he has assembled, keeping all major players over the summer while adding international forwards Andre Ayew and Eder, France Under-21 left-back Franck Tabanou and Sweden goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt, is capable of improvement.

"I want us to improve as a team, offensively and defensively, and we can do that," Monk said.

"The players are ready to take our football on to another level. I don't focus on targets in terms of points and what we should be achieving at the end.

"We want to put a good start together and last year it was about getting to 40 points as quickly as we could and it's the same approach.

"I want to get to 40 points as quickly as possible and then reassess and see what we can do."


From Belfast Telegraph