Stamford Bridge, London
Saturday, 27th September 2014 ; 1500 BST
Aston Villa will make the 126-mile journey to England’s capital city to take on the west London based Chelsea in a match which is, quite unexpectedly, a top-of-the-table clash.Both teams have had an excellent start to the season with Villa surprising everyone with their fantastic performances. Chelsea, on the other hand, were always expected to get off to a flyer but it remains to be seen if that can continue this weekend.
Chelsea had their 100% start to the season broken last weekend by a Frank Lampard goal for Manchester City in a 1-1 draw. That being said, they are still the only team in the Premier League who are unbeaten. For Chelsea, the Spanish duo of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have had a sensational beginning to their life at the Bridge and will look to continue that against the Birmingham-based side. Coming on the back of a solid defensive display against City, the Blues are definitely the favourites before this match even begins.
Aston Villa have also had a terrific start to the season only spoiled by a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal last weekend at Villa Park. The Gunners scored 3 goals in 4 minutes to stun Villa and eventually take back all three points to London. Their last away game, however, was an impressive 1-0 victory at Anfield where they put in a solid defensive display and scored a goal on the counter. Chelsea and Jose Mourinho will both be wary of that result.
Team news and tactics
The Blues have a perennial injury doubt in Diego Costa who injured his hamstring while playing for Spain during the international break. However, a week’s rest means that the Spaniard should be available from the beginning. They also have a tough trip to Lisbon coming up on Tuesday which means there is expected to be some rotation from the Portuguese manager. Mourinho has however confirmed that Ramires will be missing the game.
Chelsea will line up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation with their preferred duo of Nemanja Matic and Fabregas in front of the back four, with only the Serbian appearing – albeit for only 3 minutes – in the League Cup match against Bolton. Given Mourinho’s penchant for rotation, both Andre Schurrle and Oscar who played the full 90 minutes in that match, will be expected to drop to the bench for this. Willian and Eden Hazard being the obvious replacements for them. However, with Ramires also missing out, it could mean a start for either the Brazilian or the German. Cesar Azpilicueta also played the whole match against Bolton, but will be expected to slot back in to his left-back role.
Mourinho will be aware that Villa are high on confidence at the moment and are not under any real pressure to get a result from Stamford Bridge. It will only encourage them more to play an open, free-flowing game with their pace on the counter-attack.
Possible lineup (4-2-3-1): Courtois (GK); Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic; Matic, Fabregas; Hazard, Willian, Oscar ; Costa
A flu bug swept through the team last weekend which meant that the likes of Ashley Westwood and Nathan Baker had to miss out on the game against Arsenal. Both of them, however, should be available for selection this weekend. A major injury worry for the Villans is that of Ron Vlaar. The Dutchman suffered a calf injury against Hull City and is expected to sit this game out. Christian Benteke has started training again, but this game comes too soon for him to take part.
Villa will take on the Chelsea side in a battle of the midfields. The former’s 4-1-4-1 formation will look to cancel the Blues’ dominating midfield. The impressive Westwood will have the unenviable task of marking Fabregas and is expected to have a real test on his hands. The in-form Gabby Agbonlahor will lead the line while Andres Weimann and Kieran Richardson will support him on the wings. New signing Tom Cleverley will sit in and play the “Fabregas role” for Villa, by controlling the movement of the ball to the forwards. New England call-up Fabian Delph will protect the back four along with Westwood, with the latter joining up in attack as and when possible.
In many ways, Villa’s is a flexible system in which it can act both as a 4-1-4-1 when attacking and a 4-2-3-1 while defending. The latter is a also Mourinho’s preferred formation, which is why it will be interesting to see how the battle is won in the middle of the park.
Possible lineup (4-1-4-1): Guzan (GK), Hutton, Senderos, Baker, Cissokho; Westwood; Delph, Cleverley, Weimann, Richardson; Agbonlahor
Player to watch out for
Diego Costa (Chelsea)
Back in familiar surroundings, the Spanish forward will be licking his lips at the prospect of increasing his record-breaking start to the season. He had a tough time in the last match dealing with Eliaquim Mangala and Vincent Kompany, however he will be looking to get back into scoring form against an in-form – albeit slightly less physical – Villa defence.
- This is Chelsea 4,000th league game in their history. Out of the previous 3,999 they have won 1,663 games and managed to get a point in 1,037 games.
- Aston Villa are the only team in the Premier League not to concede an away goal so far.
- Chelsea’s goals have come from players of seven different nationalities, the largest spread in the Premier League
- If Villa win this match, it’ll only be the first time since April 2010 that they have won three away matches in a row.
Chelsea 2 – 0 Aston Villa
The Villans will put up a fight but the Chelsea attack should be too overwhelming for them. The Blues’ midfield and forwards should dominate their Villa counterparts and come up with all three points on Saturday.