Aston Villa v CHELSEA: Preview


Venue: Villa Park
Date: Saturday, 15 March
Kick-off: 17.30 GMT

Given our recent form against Villa and our run of 14 games unbeaten, on paper this fixture could look like a formality for us – particularly with Villa struggling for anything resembling consistent form at home.
The trouble with Chelsea though, is that all too often in games we don’t put in the full 90 minutes – and it’s frustrating, as Jose’s silent treatment at half-time against Fulham testified. That being the case, there’s always the danger someone will capitalise on that sooner or later. Let’s hope today isn’t that day.

MANAGER’S VIEWS
Having played down the handbags from our last meeting, ahead of today’s game Villa manager Paul Lambert says “We know we can hurt them and we have to try to do that. There was a good case for both a penalty and sending off in the last game. We have nothing to lose. Nobody expects anything from us. You always have that belief with us that we are going to create things.
Christian, Gabby Agbonlahor and Andi Weimann have been an absolute credit to us since I have been here. When they are on song these three are an absolute handful. They have everything you want in a footballer between them: Pace and power, speed, work rate. That’s what you look for in players. Christian’s two goals against Norwich game will give him confidence and he did it at Stamford Bridge as well so he knows he can do it.”

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho meanwhile, keeps it short and sweet, continuing to play down anything more than a top three finish, saying “Three points would be fabulous. One point is not a bad result at Villa Park. Zero points would be a negative result. After Villa comes Arsenal for the Premier League. We just go match-by-match.”

SQUAD NEWS
For Villa, Jores Okore and Charles N’Zogbia are on the long-term injury list, whilst
Ryan Bertrand is ineligible to play against us.
For Chelsea, Van Ginkel isn’t ready for a return and both David Luiz (groin) and Ashley Cole (knee) remain out. Fernando Torres could be in the squad, with the groin injury picked up in the warm up ahead of the Spurs game not as serious as first thought.

TEAMS
VILLA (Possible line-up): Guzan; Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett; El Ahmadi, Westwood, Delph; Agbonlahor, Benteke, Weimann
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Lampard; Ramires, Hazard, Willian; Eto’o

LAST MEETING
Chelsea 2-1 Villa (21st August 2013)

PREDICTION
Villa aren’t having much joy at home, failing to keep a clean sheet in their last 7 and conceding 13 in those games. We go into this evening’s game unbeaten in our last 14 and keeping nine clean sheets in the last 13. Against Villa, we’ve won the last four meetings, with 16 goals scored. Villa’s last game though, against Norwich gave them their biggest win of the season (4-1), so maybe Jose’s right to think we might only take a point?

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