Chelsea v Aston Villa Preview, Predicted XI, Team News and more
Chelsea are all set to welcome newly-promoted Aston Villa to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night for the Premier League's midweek round of fixtures. This game is perhaps more intriguing than one would have expected, given the two sides' relative good form this season thus far.
Left with a young, inexperienced, squad after being hit with a transfer ban in the summer, Chelsea had been expected by many to crash and burn, so a top-six finish would have been considered a very good season. However, under club legend Frank Lampard, they have been excellent and sit in fourth place, six points clear of Tottenham Hotspur, who travel to Old Trafford, so it would be no exaggeration to say that anything less than a top-four spot would be a disappointment to Blues' fans.
Aston Villa came up from the Championship through the play-offs and hence have received a massive financial boost. They have made some exciting signings this season such as Wesley, Douglas Luiz, Marvelous Nakamba, Matt Targett and Tom Heaton, to name a few. Combined with existing stars like Jack Grealish, John McGinn, Tyrone Mings and Anwar El Ghazi, the Villans have proved an entertaining side to watch.
They may sit only 3 points and 3 places above the drop zone, but their performances warrant a far better standing and off the back of scoring twice at Old Trafford in a 2-2 draw, they will fancy their chances against a Chelsea defence which can look shaky at times.
The last time the two teams met in the Premier League was in 2015-16 when Chelsea won both the fixtures by an aggregate score of 6-0, including a 2-0 win at the Bridge. In fact, Villa have lost 5 of their last six games against Chelsea and have scored only three goals in the intervening period.
Chelsea form guide: (most recent first): L-L-W-W-W-W
Aston Villa form guide: (most recent first): D-W-L-L-L-W
Chelsea: Ruben Loftus-Cheek remains a long-term absentee, with a return date of mid-December being mooted. Tammy Abraham is likely to miss out with a hip injury although there is a small chance he could feature off the bench, while Ross Barkley and Antonio Rudiger, who have been training after their respective injuries, could also play the roles of substitutes.
Aston Villa: Defender Bjorn Engels could be fit to start after missing out against Manchester United, while midfielder Jota could be fit enough for a spot on the bench. Keinan Davis will most likely not be involved. However, Dean Smith's biggest concern will be Anwar El Ghazi, who picked up a knock to his knee in the Old Trafford draw and could well miss out here.
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Tom Heaton; Frederic Guilbert, Bjorn Engels, Tyrone Mings, Matt Targett; Douglas Luiz, John McGinn, Conor Hourihane; Trezeguet, Jack Grealish, Wesley.
With both sides' preferred style of play being to get on the ball and make things happen, as well as not having the tightest backlines, this game could have chances galore. Villa have already scored twice at the homes of big six opposition on 2 occasions this season and with captain Jack Grealish currently hitting his stride, could pose a slippery opponent.
Chelsea struggled against West Ham last time out, with Abraham's absence proving a huge factor as Olivier Giroud didn't provide the same type of threat. Frank Lampard will be hoping that either one of him or Michy Batshuayi can seize the initiative and fire Chelsea to victory.
Verdict: Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa