Chelsea have been on a poor run of results with just one win in their last four Premier League matches. They lost to an out of form Arsenal team on Boxing Day and Frank Lampard will be fully aware that he needs to turn things around to ease pressure on his position. They welcome an in-form Aston Villa side who are currently above them in the league table with two matches in hand. It will be a big test for both sides and if the Blues fail to win, Lampard could find himself in a very precarious position.
After the summer spending, the pressure is on Chelsea to deliver a much better season. The start to the campaign was promising, as they had fixed their defensive issues and they were competing in every match. However, they have been poor recently and this has led to increased pressure on Frank Lampard. The main issue has been their attacking style, as they have been predictable and failing to get the best out of their array of talent. A much improved performance is needed on Monday.
Aston Villa have been excellent since the beginning of the season and they have been completely transformed under Dean Smith. The board should be given credit as they showed faith in the coaching staff and they have been repaid. It has helped that they managed to keep hold of Jack Grealish, as he is one of the best players in the division. They recruited well and they are proof that you can progress in the Premier League if you are smart.
Tammy Abraham has scored 21 Premier League goals since the beginning of last season. This is more than twice as many as any other Chelsea player has managed during this period.
Anwar El Ghazi has scored four in his last four Premier League appearances. His previous four goals in the competition came across 37 matches.
Frank Lampard has failed to find the right combination of attacking players. It is believed that Hakim Ziyech is one of the key players, but another important player is Christian Pulisic. The American international is on the road back from injury, but he has a dynamism that few other players in the league possess. It is clear to see why he was targeted to replace Eden Hazard. Although he isn’t at the Belgian’s level yet, he certainly has the potential to develop into a world class player. He has only contributed one goal in the Premier League this season. That will be improved on over the coming weeks. 2021 will be a good year for the Chelsea attacker and he could start to build momentum against Aston Villa.
It remains early in the season, but Jack Grealish is emerging as a contender to win the PFA Player of the Year award. There is no doubting that he is now one of the best and most consistent players in the division. Aston Villa are managing to progress alongside him, but at some point, there will be a move made by a bigger club, as he belongs at the highest level. He will be relishing the opportunity to face Chelsea, as it is another opportunity to show that he is one of the best. The recent poor form shown by the home side will give encouragement to the visitors. Grealish and the rest of the visiting team will know that a win would put daylight between the pair in the league table. This season, he has contributed five goals and six assists, which is a great return for 13 matches. He will be the key man on Monday and has the quality to cause real damage to the Chelsea back line.
Hakim Ziyech could be back to feature for the home side. Ben Chilwell and Reece James both returned to action on Boxing Day, but they may be rested in this one. Time Werner should start after only playing 45 minutes against Arsenal.
Tyrone Mings will be missing following his two yellow cards against Crystal Palace. Ross Barkley is close to a return, but he won’t be eligible to play against his parent club. Wesley and Trezeguet remain on the sidelines.
It is difficult to back Chelsea, following the recent poor form. Aston Villa look very good and they will arrive at Stamford Bridge full of confidence. They have won twice with 10 men in recent weeks, which underlines how well organised they are. The pressure is on Lampard and he needs to deliver a win. I’m not sure that will be coming on Monday.
Chelsea 1-1 Aston Villa