Chelsea faces Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday evening in the English Premier League. These teams are only separated by goal difference going into the final 11 fixtures. The Blues have won just three of their last nine home league matches and face a Villa side who have won twice as many matches as Chelsea since Unai Emery took over.
The Blues have improved of late, putting a run of one win in 11 behind them. That streak has six losses and just four goals scored. After losses to nil to Dortmund (1-0 away), Southampton (1-0 at home), and Tottenham (2-0) away, Graham Potter’s side stopped the bleeding by beating Leeds 1-0.
With just 40% of the ball, Chelsea then beat Dortmund 2-0 to progress to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. They put up 2.00 Expected Goals in that match but just 0.76 xG was from open play. A third successive win followed 3-1 at Leicester who put up 2.52 xG and deserved more at the King Power Stadium. Last time out, Chelsea threw away two leads to draw 2-2 with Everton.
Chelsea Team News
Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and midfielder N’Golo Kante have been training for a couple of weeks, although both are set for bench roles. Thiago Silva is still out and Reece James has had to withdraw from England duty. Wesley Fofana is a doubt with a hamstring problem so there could be some reshuffling at the back.
Raheem Sterling should be fit to return and will start if available. Mason Mount should be close to coming back from a pubic injury. Kai Havertz has had flu but should line up in the front three alongside Joao Felix and Sterling.
Chelsea need a win here, having dropped points at Stamford Bridge vs Everton last time out. A defeat would see Villa go above them whilst a win could take the hosts as high as ninth.
Potter’s side will play on the front foot and anything but a win would feel like a defeat.
Aston Villa Form
Unai Emery has done a brilliant job since taking over in November. He has overseen eight league wins in 14 matches and they’ve won four of their six away matches under the Spanish tactician. He won five of his first seven matches in charge (only losing to Liverpool) before a rough patch. Some difficult fixtures saw three successive losses, to Leicester at home (4-2), at Man City (3-1) and at home to Arsenal (4-2, after conceding twice in added time).
Villa have bounced back superbly by winning 2-0 at Sean Dyche’s Everton, 1-0 at home to Crystal Palace and then drawing 1-1 at West Ham. Prior to the FIFA break, they beat Bournemouth 3-0 at home with Douglas Luiz, Jacob Ramsey and Emi Buendia on target.
Aston Villa Team News
Villa are expected to welcome back midfielders Boubacar Kamara and Leander Dendoncker after injuries to boost options. John McGinn could keep his place alongside Douglas Luiz after performing well against Bournemouth, though.
Philippe Coutinho remains touch-and-go after a thigh problem whilst Matty Cash has had to withdraw from Poland duty due to a calf problem. Emery will hope for the safe return of Emi Martinez and Bertrand Traore et al. after long trips during the FIFA international break.
Aston Villa Motivation
Villa are very strong on the road, with Emery able to set his side up to absorb pressure. Against Chelsea’s back three, they could defend in a six at times to deal with the wingbacks.
Emery would take a point on the road, especially after his side’s losses to other members of the “big six”. However, he won’t settle for a point from the start and will look to expose the Blues’ fragile confidence with a strong start.
Chelsea have won 3 of their last 4 matches (all competitions)
CFC have failed to score in 10 of their last 19 matches (all comps)
CFC have scored 2 goals in a match just 4 times in their last 19 fixtures
Aston Villa have won 4 of their 6 away EPL matches under Emery
Villa have conceded just 5 goals in their last 6 away matches (EPL)
Villa have lost 6 of their last 7 matches at Stamford Bridge
This will be a tight and hard-fought match. Villa are capable of leaving with something but Chelsea should have just enough to nick a win.