Aston Villa have had some good results against the top four in recent seasons, with Chelsea themselves coming unstuck last season in a match that many consider was a huge blow in their title chances. Paul Lambert is coming under pressure as the problems of previous seasons continue to hinder his side. Villa have been poor in front of goal this season, while their home record has remained inconsistent at best. It could be a good chance for them to take some points from Chelsea as they have been far from convincing in recent weeks, after being knocked out of the FA Cup and putting in an under par performance against Manchester City.
The home side are still facing some problems and will certainly be involved in the relegation picture come the end of the season, they simply don’t have the goals to put significant distance between them and the bottom three. They are only three points above the relegation zone after eight matches without a win, and Paul Lambert could be coming under pressure if this run continues. A fixture at home against the league leaders isn’t ideal, but his side will have little pressure on them and some of Villa’s best performances under Lambert have been in matches like this.
Chelsea have once again put some distance between them and Manchester City with their lead currently standing at five points. They have already played the majority of their harder fixtures this season, with only a trip to the Emirates providing any real concern and that isn’t until the end of April. In the coming weeks, they could build on their lead further, but they need to guard against complacency, especially in matches like these. The arrival of Juan Cuadrado will bring a new dimension to Chelsea’s play as he offers natural width which Willian doesn’t. This is a big reason why Chelsea are top of the league, as they continue to add when they are in a position of strength.
Fabian Delph scored the winner in this match last season, in a 1-0 win for the home side. Willian was sent off in this match. Earlier in the season, Chelsea were comfortable winners at home by the scoreline 3-0. Oscar, Diego Costa and Willian scored the goals for the league leaders and Mourinho will be hoping for a similarly comfortable match this weekend.
Joe Cole and Ron Vlaar may be back for Villa this weekend, while Philippe Senderos will be missing for this match, but he could be back in mid week. Scott Sinclair could be in line for his Aston Villa debut against his former club after joining on loan from Manchester City. Libor Kozak is moving closer to a return, but is still not ready for a return yet.
Cesc Fabregas will be missing for the next few matches with a hamstring injury, which could give an opportunity for Ramires to get into the starting eleven. John Obi Mikel could be back this weekend, and he could be chosen to replace Fabregas in the starting eleven. Filipe Luis is another player who is likely to be missing this weekend. Diego Costa of course, will be serving the second match of his three match ban.
Aston Villa have scored the least amount of goals in the league this season with eleven. Their woes in front of goal don’t appear to be improving as they haven’t scored in their last six matches.
Chelsea, on the other hand, are the league’s leading goalscorers with 52 goals to date. They have scored 11 goals in their last four league matches, which is equal to Villa’s total for the season.
Christian Benteke is crucial to Villa’s survival hopes as he has shown before that he can score goals in this division. He has had a poor period since his debut season, and has never managed to reach those levels again. His physical attributes make him the perfect striker to play in England, and he has shown in the past that he has the finishing abilities and movement to complement his physique. His injury last season has set him back, but he has now had enough football to have an impact on the pitch. The Belgian is playing in a poor Villa side, and he will be looking for a move away in the summer as his development is being stunted at Villa Park. However if he is to get a transfer away, he will need to start playing well and scoring goals this season. He has just two goals and one assist to his name this season in 14 league matches. This needs to improve in the remaining matches. He has caused Chelsea problems in the past with his strength and aerial ability, and he will be a concern to John Terry and Kurt Zouma this weekend. The latter could be a player who could be targeted given his lack of experience in England and Benteke could be the man to exploit them.
Loic Remy will continue in the starting eleven with Diego Costa still out with a suspension. He hasn’t had many opportunities since joining the club from QPR, but he has impressed for the Blues when he has managed to get onto the pitch. He is a player who always seems to have an impact on games, with his pace, movement and finishing quality making him one of the best strikers in the final third. Chelsea are lucky to have such a deep squad which allows them to call upon players with the quality of Loic Remy when their number one striker is injured or suspended. Remy showed last season that he could be a constant goal threat in the Premier League, scoring 14 goals in 26 matches for Newcastle, which is better than a goal per game. This season for Chelsea, he has managed to score three league goals in only ten appearances, with eight of those coming from the bench. The Frenchman has a goal every 91.7 minutes in the league for Chelsea, which is very impressive and if he is used more, he could really have an impact on the Blues’ season. He will be a danger for Aston Villa as his pace and the timing of his runs will make him difficult to defend against, especially given the lack of pace in the back for of Villa.
The lack of goals in the Villa side is a huge problem going forward and could determine their Premier League future. This fixture is unlikely to see a return to scoring goals for Aston Villa as Chelsea have one of the best defences in the league. Chelsea will be keen to get back to winning ways after a disappointing couple of weeks and Villa offer the perfect opportunity for the league leaders to change their form. Chelsea should find it comfortable enough at Villa Park, scoring a few goals in the process.
Aston Villa 0-3 Chelsea