Coming off of our thrashing off Leeds in the Capitol One Cup, we face a high-flying Aston Villa side led by Paul Lambert, at Stamford Bridge. After returning from Tokyo without the World Club Championship, we gained retribution with a 5-1 mauling of Leeds in midweek to reach the Capital One Cup semi-finals and return to league action 13 points adrift of Manchester United, albeit with a game in hand. With Everton, WBA, Tottenham and Arsenal all playing today, we’ve fallen to 7th position in the League Table. A win against Villa would put us back into 3rd with a game less (Southampton – Home). For us, it would be a crucial win and opportunity to climb back into the title race with Manchester City and United continuing to win and keep their marks on the PL table. With Gary Cahill, Ramires and John Obi Mikel available for selection after their suspensions, Chelsea will have an almost full-squad available to face Villa. John Terry is still out with his knee injury and it looks like he will not play in any of our Christmas fixtures.
Villa enter this match in good form, a 4-1 win over high-flying Norwich City in the COC and a memorable victory over Liverpool at Anfield (3-1).Villa are at last beginning to find their feet after a difficult opening to the season and last weekend’s magnificent victory at Anfield typified their new found belief. The last time they achieved such a scoreline came in August 2009, when Martin O’Neill’s side were challenging for Champions League honours.Villa are unbeaten in their last five league games and also reached the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup. Villa boss Paul Lambert still expects Chelsea to pose a formidable threat despite their hectic schedule and travelling back from the World Club Championship in Japan.
He also has immense respect for Benitez, here’s what he had to say about Chelsea and Rafa Benitez :
Lambert said: “I hope the travelling affects them – but I don’t think it will. They had a good result the other night against Leeds.
“The tiredness only comes in if you are not getting results, if you’re winning nobody bothers.
“In terms of Rafa, you look at his managerial career, and it is phenomenal.
“He’s gone in there at a difficult time and tried to stabilise it and get results at the same time.”
Projected Lineups :
Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole
Moses, Mata, Hazard
Lowton, Baker, Lichaj, Clark
Ireland, Westwood, Holman, Bannan
Key Stats :
- Aston Villa have only won once in their last 10 visits to Stamford Bridge, but that win came last season as the Villans claimed a surprise 3-1 victory.
- Rafael Benitez has only lost once in 12 matches against Aston Villa as a Premier League manager, winning seven and drawing four.
- There has been 56 goals scored in the 20 Premier League meetings between the two clubs at Stamford Bridge.
- 73% of Aston Villa’s Premier League goals this season (11 of 15) have come from strikers; a higher proportion of any other side.
Aston Villa come to Stamford Bridge in fabulous form and are finally finding their feet under Paul Lambert. Chelsea are still trying to recover from disappointment in Japan and their recent heavy travelling after facing Leeds only days after losing in the CWC final. With that all in consideration, it’s going to be a tough match for both sides considering Chelsea’s possible fatigue and Villa having to play at Stamford Bridge – I believe it will finish 2-0 to Chelsea in a hard fought match that sees us silence their goal-scorers Weimann and Benteke.
What do you think? Will Aston Villa shock Chelsea again at the Bridge? Will Chelsea continue to win in England under Rafa Benitez?