Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from their back-to-back losses in the Premier League when they host Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Saturday provided a rude awakening to Frank Lampard and his Chelsea team. The Blues were beaten at Stamford Bridge by London rivals West Ham United. The concerning point of the game was the lack of opportunities created, with West Ham keeping a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge for the first time in a while.
The focus will now be to arrest their rut at the instant, with Chelsea still having a comfortable six-point buffer over 5th placed Tottenham. But, the task will be far from easy as they welcome an Aston Villa side that will be high on spirits after a hard-earned 2-2 draw at Manchester United on Sunday.
Villa are three points clear of the relegation zone, but will hope to use the momentum gathered from the United draw and a potentially positive result at Chelsea as a springboard to steer further clear away from danger.
As Chelsea and Aston Villa gear up for the game at Stamford Bridge, we take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Cesar Azpilicueta was mysteriously not included in the starting eleven in the 1-0 defeat to West Ham. The Spaniard should return. But, we expect Lampard to shift Azpilicueta to the left side, with Reece James impressing enough to retain his place in the starting eleven. Marcos Alonso will make way for the Chelsea captain, with Fikayo Tomori and Kurt Zouma completing the back four.
N’Golo Kante was another player who was bizarrely missing from the starting eleven as Lampard experimented with a 4-2-3-1. But, the manager should revert to a 4-3-3 and reinstate Kante. The Frenchman should be accompanied by Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho.
In attack, Willian should return as well while Christian Pulisic should be retained, owing to his recent form, despite his costly miss against West Ham. Mason Mount will have to make do with a place on the bench. Olivier Giroud was lacklustre against West Ham and should ideally make way for Tammy Abraham, provided he is fit in time. In case he isn’t, Michy Batshuayi will lead the Chelsea attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; James, Tomori, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Willian, Abraham, Pulisic
Frederic Guilbert is suspended for the Chelsea game after he accrued his fifth domestic booking in the 2-2 draw against Manchester United. Guilbert should be replaced by Ahmed Elmohamady on the right side of the back four.
Bjorn Engels is fit again, but the likes of Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Matt Targett should complete the four-man backline for Aston Villa, with Tom Heaton in goal against Chelsea.
In midfield, we should see the trio from the Manchester United game being retained, which means John McGinn, Conor Hourihane and Douglas Luiz will command the middle of the pitch for Aston Villa.
Jota continues to be a doubt for Villa and is joined by Anwar El Ghazi, who was forced off early against Manchester United. Summer arrival Trezeguet should come in for El Ghazi. Jack Grealish will support Wesley upfront, with the duo likely to be the main ingredients in a winning recipe for Aston Villa.
Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Heaton; ElMohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Douglas, Hourihane; Trezeguet, Grealish; Wesley
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.75
1. Full Time Result – Draw or Aston Villa @ 3.00
1. Chelsea are yet to gain a single point from a losing position this season.
2. Aston Villa, on the other hand, have dropped the most points in the Premier League from winning positions (13).
3. Aston Villa have lost eight of their last nine games in London, conceding at least two goals in each of their visits.
4. Chelsea have failed to score at home just once this season. Coincidentally, it came last weekend in a 1-0 defeat to West Ham.
5. Jack Grealish has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last five Premier League appearances for Aston Villa.
Player to Watch
Chelsea’s defence has been shaky under Frank Lampard and while the performances at the back have improved, there is still room to exploit. Wesley is going through a dry spell, with no goals in his last six Premier League appearances. But, it is not down to a dip in performance from Wesley.
Rather, the Brazilian has been working perfectly for the Aston Villa system. But, against a Chelsea back four that might find it a bit difficult to stop Wesley’s movement along with his aerial ability, we could see the 23-year-old be the difference maker for Aston Villa on Wednesday.
Chelsea 2-2 Aston Villa
There is one thing you have come to expect from Chelsea games – entertainment. The West Ham game though, was anything but fun for Chelsea fans and neutrals as well. Frank Lampard will likely to put his best team forward on Wednesday and we should see the fluid football that Chelsea have been playing all season.
Aston Villa are a hardworking team and will look to do more of the same. It will come down to which side takes their chances well. We anticipate a scoring game, with a draw the likeliest result on the cards.