After a much-needed week-long break, Chelsea resume their league duties with a trip to Villa Park on Saturday. Aston Villa will be expecting a tough test while Chelsea is likely hand their new signing Juan Cuadrado, a debut.
TEAM NEWS, SUSPENSIONS AND INJURY UPDATES
Diego Costa will miss out due to the three-match ban he received for the stamp on Emre Can. Cesc Fabregas remains out with a hamstring problem. Left back Filipe Luis is out with a calf strain. John Obi Mikel, who missed the City game with a head injury, is set to return on Saturday. Loic Remy will start in place of Costa after his impressive goal scoring performance against City. Ramires will partner Matic in midfield while Azpilicueta will play at left back. Kurt Zouma is expected to retain his place beside John Terry ahead of Cahill, after yet another mature showing in the heart of defence. New signing Juan Cuadrado is expected to start, which may see Willian demoted to the bench.
For Aston Villa, Senderos remains out with a calf injury while Kozak is out with a broken leg. Captain Ron Vlaar is set to return from his knee injury but will be on the bench in all probability. Ashley Westwood and Aly Cissokho could return in place of Carlos Sanchez and Kieran Richardson. Carles Gil looks a bright talent and should start along with Benteke and Andreas Weimann. Brad Guzan will hope for a better performance between the posts.
Chelsea top the table, maintaining a lead of 5 points over second-placed Manchester City. Chelsea beat Liverpool in a two-legged semi-final to reach the Capital One Cup final, but also lost to lower division side Bradford City at home, in between the two legs. After a grilling 120 minutes of football against Liverpool, Chelsea drew against Manchester City with two of their most important players missing in Costa and Fabregas. With only 15 matches to go and the knockout stages of the Champions League fast approaching, Chelsea will know they can not afford to let their form drop. This being the business end of the season, all teams, including the ones in the bottom half of the table, will put up tough fights to avoid a relegation battle. Chelsea will look to improve their away form and get all 3 points against the Villans.
Aston Villa, who sit on 16th in the table, are going through a very rough patch. They have not won any of their last 8 matches. They lost their last match against Arsenal, conceding 5 goals and scoring none. Aston Villa have scored only 11 goals in the Premier League this season, with their last goal coming 6 matches ago against Manchester United in a 1-1 draw. Aston Villa know they can not let their heads drop against a team of Chelsea’s calibre. Also, failure to improve their form would get them entangled in a tough relegation battle, and that is the last thing they would want.
Jose Mourinho has never won an away match at Villa Park in the Premier League. Aston Villa have gone 612 minutes without a goal in the Premier League now.
REVERSE FIXTURE THIS SEASON
Chelsea 3-0 Aston Villa 27/09/2014
LAST 5 PREMIER LEAGUE MEETINGS
Chelsea 3-0 Aston Villa 27/09/2014
Aston Villa 1-0 Chelsea 24/03/2014
Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa 21/08/2013
Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea 11/05/2013
Chelsea 8-0 Aston Villa 23/12/2012
PREDICTED STARTING LINE UPS
Aston Villa: Guzan (GK), Hutton, Okore, Clark, Cissokho, Westwood, Cleverly, Delph, Gil, Weimann, Benteke
Chelsea: Courtois (GK), Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry (C), Azpilicueta, Matic, Ramires, Hazard, Oscar, Cuadrado, Remy
Aston Villa 0-2 Chelsea
Time: 1500 GMT/ 2030 IST
Venue: Villa Park
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
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Edited By: Vikram Chandra