Aston Villa v CHELSEA: Preview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Venue: Villa Park

Date: Saturday, 11 May

Kick-Off: 12.45 GMT

A cliched must-win game for us today if we are to get the 3 points that would secure a Champions League place for us next season and take some pressure off before our Uefa Cup final.  For Villa though, it’d guarantee them Premier League football next season, so they aren’t on their summer holidays yet either. And whilst we might have given them a right royal battering at Stamford Bridge in December, it really is a case of that was then and this is now – and it’s fair to say they’re a changed side of late.

One thing that hasn’t changed though, is the applause we’ll hear – in the 16th minute for Roberto Di Matteo and again in the 19th for Stiliyan Petrov – although I suspect both may be with a heavier heart than usual on this occasion. For the Villa fans, the news of Petrov’s retirement this week will undoubtedly have a bearing, whilst for us, I suspect we all know the constant recognition for Roberto Di Matteo is nearing its end – like the interim’s contract really!

 

MANAGER’S VIEWS

In spite of the ordeal he endured when he brought his side to Stamford Bridge for our last meeting, Paul Lambert is apparently full of confidence for this one, saying “To be fair to Chelsea, that game (at Stamford Bridge) – it could have been more and that’s the reality of it. Brad Guzan made some great saves.  But the team has bounced back incredibly. We’re a different team now to what we were then. There has been a massive improvement in the way that we’ve played, the belief and the confidence has been really high. Against the teams around about us, in the games we’ve had to win, we’ve produced. I think that’s been a big, big factor in where we are at the minute.”

 

SQUAD NEWS

For Villa, Karim El Ahmadi (thigh) and Ciaran Clark (foot) miss out, whilst Matthew Lowton (thigh) will face a late fitness test. Richard Dunne, although back in training, is unlikely to feature in Villa’s remaining fixtures.

For Chelsea, Ryan Bertrand (knee) is out, Eden Hazard (calf) and Victor Moses (leg) are doubtful, although John Obi Mikel (hip) is available again.  Oriol Romeu (knee) is also back in contention following his long-term absence and Lampard should get a start.

 

TEAMS

VILLA (Possible line-up): Guzan, Lichaj, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett, Westwood, Delph, Sylla, Agbonlahor, Benteke, Weimann

CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Lampard, Ramires, Moses, Mata, Oscar, Ba

 

LAST MEETING

Chelsea 8-0 Villa (23rd December 2012)

 

PREDICTION

We absolutely thumped Villa in the reverse fixture back in December and Frank Lampard would certainly like a goal here today which would see him equal Bobby Tambling’s 202 club goal scoring record but the Villa side we face today, unlike back then, are 3rd in the PL form table (behind Arsenal and us) so it won’t be quite so easy.

We’ve won 2 from our last 4 trips to Villa Park (with a draw and defeat in the other 2) and Villa haven’t been brilliant at home lately, winning just 3 from their last 11 in the league on home soil. But whilst they’ve gone 20 league games without a clean sheet, Villa’s attack has been in impressive form, with 18 goals seeing them win five of their last 8 games.

With us both really needing all 3 from this one though, are we doomed to suffer a bore draw?

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