Chelsea? Bring it on
SWANSEA City are ready to take on the Champions League winners, with Garry Monk insisting they can match the best that Europe has to offer.
After an impressive performance against Premier League champs Manchester City was followed by a Capital One Cup victory at Liverpool, Swansea host Chelsea feeling bullish about their chances.
On occasions last season, when they lined up against a Premier League heavyweight, there were signs of trepidation in their performance as players who had risen through the divisions suddenly came up against global stars with megamoney price tags.
Monk reckons any early stage fright has now passed.
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Now Swansea prepare for games against the country's most glamorous clubs confident of getting results.
"We have belief," he said. "I think the game against Manchester City showed us that we can go to the champions, put in a performance and really take it to them.
"In the end we should have got something from that match.
"We are in a big game every week, but ever since I've been here we've had big games relative to that league and we've always risen to the occasion.
"On our day we're good enough to compete with anyone — anyone in Europe, anyone at all — we just have to make sure we're on our game.
"We showed that in the Manchester City game, we showed it again against Liverpool and hopefully we'll show it against Chelsea."
Fresh from promotion to a league full of big names and high profiles, Brendan Rodgers's side began last season with a 4-0 defeat by Manchester City.
There was a different feel to last week's slender 1-0 reverse at the Etihad Stadium as a more savvy Swansea were far from overawed by their plush surroundings.
They should have returned to South Wales with at least a point, but they got exactly what they deserved from Wednesday's trip to Liverpool.
A courageous 0-0 draw at Anfield was regarded as quite a feat 12 months ago.
The midweek cup triumph at the same venue was on a different level altogether as Swansea brushed aside their more illustrious opponents with a stylish swagger.
Monk added: "We went to Liverpool last year and looked at all the names on their team sheet. For a lot of the boys it was their first season in the Premier League, and we thought 'We hope we can get something'.
"We went there this time knowing that if we were on it we could get a result.
"We're not just players who have come up a league now, we're Premier League players, we're top players and we deserve to be where we are.
"You can see from Joe (Allen), who moved to Liverpool for big money, exactly how far we've come.
"I think the boys realised that on Wednesday and it showed in the performance."
Next up are Chelsea, who Swansea drew 1-1 with back in January. Manager Roberto Di Matteo led the Blues to European glory last May and has since strengthened an already sparkling squad.
Midfielder Eden Hazard and £25 million capture Oscar have been added to Chelsea's ranks.
But Swansea are no longer star struck.
"Our mindset has changed, but you can't just say that, you need evidence," said Monk.
"The result against Liverpool and performance against Manchester City, albeit we lost, has given us belief and the evidence that we can achieve things and not just talk about it.
"Chelsea are the reigning European champions with a lot of attacking talent.
"On paper they're a fantastic side. There's everything that goes with being European champions so it's going to be great for our fans.
"But we're not here to make up the numbers, we're here to win games and that's the attitude we'll take into this match."
Monk may make his first Premier League appearance of the season tomorrow. Swansea's club captain was pressed into second-half action two days ago after Chico Flores suffered a dead leg that threatens to keep him out this weekend.
"All I can do is try to be ready," he said.
"I tried to do my best, I thought I did all right and we got the win, which is the most important thing.
"Whatever happens, I'll do my best for the club and when I get a chance I've got to make the most of it."
The former Southampton defender had played just 90 minutes of football before that outing, having started against Crawley in round three of the Capital One Cup.
But he coped well with the challenge of repelling a Liverpool side searching for a way back into the game.
Flores's header had given Swansea a deserved half-time lead that was doubled when Nathan Dyer finished a flowing counter-attack with 17 minutes remaining.
In-form striker Luis Suarez then hit back for the Reds, who were pushing for an equaliser before Jonathan de Guzman sealed victory in injury time.
"Any win at Anfield is a great achievement," said Monk.
"Apart from the first 15 minutes, I thought we were the better team and thoroughly deserved the win.
"I thought the players, the management and the fans behind the goal were magnificent.
"I'm not just saying that. I think we took 3,000 up and they kept the Kop quiet, which doesn't happen very often."
Victory was all the sweeter as it came against former manager Rodgers.
The Northern Irishman left the Liberty for Liverpool last summer and was treated to good-natured ribbing from the travelling fans.
"In the back of our mind it gave us a little bit of extra motivation, just as I'm sure it gave him a bit of extra motivation," added Monk.
"But once the game starts, you just want to get on with it. You're just competing with the 11 players against you.
"If their manager happens to be your ex-manager, I think that's more for the fans."
Swansea's focus is on the future and the chance to make further progress tomorrow.