These sides will both be happy to see the back of this season and begin to rebuild their clubs in the summer. Chelsea have managed to get into the top half, but it has still been a very poor season as they were expected to challenge for the title once again. Meanwhile Aston Villa are all but relegated, as they sit bottom of the table with just 16 points. This fixture has provided us with some very exciting games over the last ten years and although this year doesn’t have much significance, it could still be a great game.
This week saw Remi Garde leave the club as the Frenchman failed to make much of an impact since taking over from Tim Sherwood. It appears that the changes in the boardroom and the removal of the manager this week is the club planning for the Championship. They are ensuring that they have a successful structure set up early, which should give them the best chance of rebuilding the squad and starting next season quickly. There is a lot of work to be done to make them a promotion challenger next season, with the rumours suggesting that Nigel Pearson is the most likely to take over. He built solid foundations at Leicester City and could be the perfect appointment to fix Aston Villa.
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s season has already finished, with them in a poor league position and being out of all the cup competitions. Antonio Conte looks all set to take over at the club in the summer after taking Italy to the European Championships. He did a very good job at Juventus, but he has a lot of work to do in the summer to make the club challengers again. The attitude in the squad is a big problem, while some of the key players may be eyeing a move to a club with Champions League football next season.
In the earlier meeting this season, Chelsea managed to win 2-0 with Diego Costa scoring. The other goal came due to an Alan Hutton own goal. In the corresponding fixture last season, Chelsea were also victorious and ran out 2-1 winners. The goals for the champions were scored by Eden Hazard and Branislav Ivanovic. Jores Okore scored the goal for Aston Villa on that day.
Micah Richards, Jack Grealish and Adama Traore are all doubts for the weekend with various injuries. Meanwhile Libor Kozak and Jordan Amavi are both set to miss the rest of the season.
Kenedy is carrying a knock and is a doubt for the trip to Villa Park. Diego Costa could return to the side following the international break, but Eden Hazard is still a week away from a return.
Aston Villa have scored the fewest goals (22) and conceded the most (58), which is why it isn’t a surprise that they are bottom of the league.
Chelsea are still unbeaten in the league under Guus Hiddink, which shows that their start to the season wasn’t a reflection on their ability.
The defender isn’t popular amongst Aston Villa fans after his social media faux pas earlier in the month, but he is still an important player for the club. He is very experienced and could be central to the rebuilding efforts at the club, as he is approaching a time in his career, where he may consider dropping down the divisions. At the age of 33, Lescott may feel that staying in his hometown is more appealing than uprooting once more, purely for Premier League football. There have been signs that the defender is on a downwards trajectory as he has been caught out several times over the season, and Championship football may allow him to regain confidence, which has been severely lacking this season. Chelsea will dominate possession this weekend, and with their array of attacking talent, the Aston Villa defence will have to be on top form to have any chance on Saturday. Lescott is an excellent player on his day and is capable of keeping the Chelsea attack at bay, especially with Diego Costa missing. The Aston Villa squad will be playing for their futures over the run in, and Lescott is one with a huge question mark over his head, when it comes to whether he should be kept on or not.
This season has had very few bright spots for Chelsea, but the emergence of Willian is one of them. The Brazilian should be considered central to the club’s plans for the future, as he has showed that he can deliver in big matches, while he has added consistency to his game. Over the last few years, he has been in the shadows of Eden Hazard and Oscar, but he is now undoubtedly the star of the Chelsea attack, and he has also secured a starting place in the Brazilian national side. He is entering into the peak of his career at the age of 27, and he will be hoping that Chelsea can return to winning trophies in the coming seasons. His ability to beat players with his pace and guile has been impressive, while his calmness from set pieces has also been evident over the course of the season. He has four goals and five assists in the league, but his overall contribution to the team has been a lot more than previous seasons. His unpredictability on the ball will cause Villa problems and the Brazilian will really enjoy playing against the worst defence in the league.
I expect Chelsea to win comfortably, despite the managerial change at Villa Park. Guus Hiddink has revitalised Chelsea and he will be keen to maintain his unbeaten record in the league until he leaves his post in the summer. Chelsea have a great side, and will be eager to show their dominance over what is a very poor Aston Villa side. Although they still have a mathematical chance of staying in the league, it is difficult to see how it could happen and Chelsea should score a few goals to further dent Villa’s confidence.
Aston Villa 0-3 Chelsea