Stamford Bridge, London
August 21, 2013; 19:45 GMT
Chelsea got off to a perfect start on opening day by defeating Hull City without breaking a sweat, and now face Aston Villa on Wednesday, in a rescheduled game that would have otherwise taken place on the 31st of August were the West London club not supposed to play Bayern Munich in the Super Cup. Aston Villa are fresh from mauling Arsenal at the Emirates and would look to bag another big London scalp before the next weekend.
Chelsea scored early courtesy goals from Oscar and Lampard, before shutting up shop in the second half, leading to a dull second half performance. The day, however, belonged to Jose Mourinho, who received an overwhelming response from the home crowd on his return. On the other hand, Christian Benteke scored twice from the penalty spot to gives Paul Lambert the best possible start that he could have hoped for. In a fiesty affair, which saw as many as 9 bookings and Laurent Koscielny being sent off, Aston Villa came from behind to take the three points and leave Arsenal in turmoil.
On Wednesday night, both teams would look to continue with the good work.
Team News & Tactical Brief
Jose Mourinho, as per his own admission, wont be able to call upon the services of David Luiz against Villa, as the defender is yet to regain full fitness. While, Juan Mata is slowly regaining his fitness and has started training again, but Chelsea might have to wait until the trip to Manchester at the weekend to see their Spanish playmaker in action right from the onset.
In a 4-2-3-1 formation, Chelsea are likely to field the back five of Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry and Bertrand, but if Azpilicueta has fully recovered from his midweek travel on international duty, Mourinho might rest one of the central defenders and use Ivanovic in the middle. With one eye on the fixture against United, Chelsea may decide to give Ashley Cole the night off, using Bertrand in his stead.
In the first game, Lampard and Ramires had started in the pivot ahead of the defense and were the given the freedom to break away from the deep and join the attack. Marco van Ginkel and Michael Essien are expected to replace them in the starting line-up, but whether they’d be given that kind of tactical freedom remains to be seen.
The attack is again expected to comprise of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Kevin de Bruyne, but in all likelihood will have Romelu Lukaku leading the line in place of Fernando Torres. Hazard will start on the left and his compatriot de Bruyne on the right, with Oscar continuing from where he’d left off against Hull.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Bertrand; Essien, van Ginkel; Oscar, de Bruyne, Hazard; Lukaku
Natthan Baker injured his ankle against Arsenal in the first half and unlikely to feature at Stamford Bridge, but Lambert will be able to call upon fit-again Yacouba Sylla, in case he so desires.
Paul Lambert isn’t expected to make too many changes to his 4-3-3 system after such a moral-boosting victory last weekend. Brad Guzan will start in goal, with Lowton at right-back and Luna on the right. Ciaran Clark, who’d replaced Baker against Arsenal, will hold onto his place in the centre of defence alongside Vlaar. The midfield triangle will comprise of Westwood sitting behind Fabian Delph and Karim El Ahmadi. Christian Benteke will again be their man man, and will have the support of in-form Agbonlahor from the left and Weimann from the right.
With Lukaku expected to start at the other end, Benteke would be eager to win this battle of the Belgian forwards by putting the reputation of Terry and Co. to the test. Furthermore, it would be absolutely essential for Villa to keep Chelsea’s attacking midfielders in check. Against Hull, they interchanged positions, took turns to drag their markers out of place and linked up so effectively that the opposition might have felt helpless at times. The Villa defence and even Westwood would have to closely follow their movement in and around the box, denying them space between the lines if Aston Villa are to take anything from this match.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Luna; Westwood, Delph, Ahmadi; Weimann, Agbonlahor, Benteke
- There have been over 2.5 goals scored in Aston Villa’s last12 away games in the Premier League.
- Chelsea have won 8 of their last 9 home matches in the Premier League.
- Chelsea have scored at least 2 goals in their last 6 home matches in the Premier League.
- Chelsea have seen over 2.5 goals in their last 4 matches against Aston Villa in all competitions.
- Chelsea have won their last 3 matches against Aston Villa in all competitions.
Player To Watch Out For
Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)
Despite a much longer preseason and performing better than Fernando Torres over the summer, the veteran striker got the nod to start against Hull City. Lukaku came on eventually and brought back an otherwise dull affair to life, but he’ll surely want to rise above Torres in the pecking order. After scoring 17 goals for West Brom last season, he has already hit 4 in preseason and will be looking to add to his tally against Villa at Stamford Bridge, announcing his return to his parent club.
Chelsea 3-2 Aston Villa
Chelsea have never lost a Premier League match at home under Jose Mourinho, and that record will not be broken this midweek. Christian Benteke will prove to be a handful for the Chelsea backline but eventually their overall quality all over the pitch will prevail.