A place in the Carabao Cup fourth round will be up for grabs when Chelsea welcome Aston Villa to Stamford Bridge in a third round tie on Wednesday.
Just six more matches remain for the Carabao Cup third round to culminate, as action in the League Cup continues on Wednesday. One of the more eye-catching fixtures on the day will be an all Premier League affair as Chelsea play hosts to Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have been nothing short of brilliant early in the 2021/22 season, having not only won the UEFA Super Cup but also being nigh on impregnable. The Blues have indeed conceded just one goal so far, with that being the only game which they have not won. Most recently, they cruised to a straightforward win over Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League.
Aston Villa, on the other hand, appear to be picking up form after a bit of a wobbly start to the season that has seen them suffer a defeat to their hosts on Wednesday once again. Most recently, though, the Villans grabbed a big win over Everton, although that came at the cost of Leon Bailey’s fitness.
As iterated earlier, Chelsea and Aston Villa have already locked horns once this season, with the Blues grabbing a 3-0 win thanks to a brace by Romelu Lukaku which sandwiched a Mateo Kovacic goal. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Carabao Cup encounter.
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— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 21, 2021
Thomas Tuchel does not have any fresh injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Aston Villa. So, the Chelsea manager continues to be bereft of the services of two first-team players, with Edouard Mendy and Christian Pulisic still on the sidelines.
Mendy’s is the most recent fitness issue, with Kepa Arrizbalaga having replaced him in goals last time out versus Tottenham Hotspur. The Spaniard will once again be deployed between the sticks, with Chelsea lining up in their usual 3-4-2-1 formation in front of him.
And as expected, some of their regular players will get a rest on Wednesday, while players like Trevoh Chalobah, Saul Niguez and Callum Hudson-Odoi get a chance to impress. Chalobah will start in the three-man central defensive unit, with Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen being his partners.
Reece James ought to return in the right wing-back berth while on the left flank, Ben Chilwell will be handed a recall. Saul will be a part of the central midfield partnership which will also comprise of the tireless Mateo Kovacic.
Finally, in attack, Timo Werner will make a rare appearance as the central striker, leading the line for Chelsea against Aston Villa, with creative support coming from Hakim Ziyech and Hudson-Odoi which leaves Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Romelu Lukaku as emergency options on the bench.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Christensen; James, Saul, Kovacic, Chilwell; Ziyech, Hudson-Odoi; Werner
Unlike his counterpart in the Chelsea dugout, Dean Smith is sweating over the fitness of more than half a dozen first-team players ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge. The only certain absentees for Aston Villa are Trezeguet and Keinan Davis.
However, the likes of Matty Cash, Matt Targett, Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Carney Chukwuemeka, John McGinn and Leon Bailey remain major doubts, with Smith unlikely to take a risk with any of the six aforementioned players.
The absence of Cash and Targett would prompt the Aston Villa boss to deploy Ashley Young and Bertrand Traore as the two wing-backs, as was the case late on against Everton. Meanwhile, Kortney Hause will make a rare appearance at the back, partnering Ezri Konsa and Axel Tuanzebe in the three-man central defensive unit.
Up ahead in midfield, Douglas Luiz is due a rest, with Morgan Sanson starting in his stead, while Marvelous Nakamba replaces McGinn. Emiliano Buendia will return to the starting lineup as one of the two attacking midfielders behind Ollie Watkins, with Anwar El Ghazi completing the attacking unit for Aston Villa.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Steer; Konsa, Tuanzebe, Hause; Traore, Nakamba, Sanson, Young; Buendia, El Ghazi; Watkins
- This will be the fifth League Cup tie between Chelsea and Aston Villa, and first since 2006/07 when the sides met in the fourth round. The Blues have progressed from three of the previous four, with Aston Villa’s only triumph coming back in 2003/04 in the quarter-finals.
- Chelsea have progressed from each of their last 10 third round ties in the EFL Cup since a 4-3 defeat to Newcastle United back in 2010/11.
- Since the 2019/20 campaign, Aston Villa have progressed in the League Cup at the expense of Premier League opposition four times, beating four fellow top-flight sides in 2019/20 before finishing as runners-up to Manchester City.
- Since Thomas Tuchel took over Borussia Dortmund ahead of the 2015/16 campaign, he has seen his side lose just four of his 34 domestic cup ties across spells in Germany, France (with PSG) and at current club Chelsea, with two of those eliminations coming on penalties. His Chelsea side however did suffer defeat in last season’s FA Cup final in his most recent such fixture.
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Unlike fellow summer arrival Romelu Lukaku, it has not been a fairytale start to life at Chelsea for Saul Niguez. The Spaniard indeed endured a rather dreadful debut for the Blues when they last took on Aston Villa, with Thomas Tuchel taking him off at half-time.
The Carabao Cup meeting with Villa, though, offers Saul the chance to make amends, especially with Tuchel set to field a number of other players who have something to prove. So, this is the ideal game for the 26-year-old to kick-start his Chelsea career while giving Tuchel some much needed food for thought in the midfield unit.
Chelsea 2-0 Aston Villa
Chelsea might be set to field a heavily rotated side against Aston Villa. However, their defensive solidity will show no signs of letting up, with an umpteenth clean sheet expected on Wednesday in the Carabao Cup third round.
On the opposite end, Aston Villa will themselves prove to be resilient customers, frustrating Timo Werner & co. before the deadlock finally gets broken midway through the second half. That first goal will immediately be followed by a second, which will seal a 2-0 win for Chelsea to book their place in the fourth round.