Aston Villa return to Premier League action today as they travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea.
It will inevitably be a tough tie and the current Champions League winners have made a strong start to the season with seven points from three games.
Following the European Super Cup win over Villarreal, Chelsea beat Crystal Palace at home 3-0, before a 2-0 away to Arsenal and most recently a 1-1 draw away at Liverpool in which they were down to ten men for a long period of time.
Dean Smith will face his first major challenge of the season in one of the established top sides and he will have a selection headache due to the recent drama around Argentina’s travel issues when they took on Brazil in the World Cup Qualifiers.
He faces Thomas Tuchel, a shrewd tactician and a successful young manager who has a wealth of talent to choose from and he has undoubtedly strengthened a side that only took a point from the two games against Villa last season.
Romelu Lukaku and Saul Niguez both came in during the summer to add some obvious quality to an already progressive side.
It has notoriously been a difficult fixture for Aston Villa with their last win at Stamford Bridge coming December 2011 when the Villans came from behind to win 3-1 with goals from Stephen Ireland, Stiliyan Petrov and Darren Bent.
Aston Villa Team News
Dean Smith will be without key duo Emiliano Martinez and Emi Buendia due to quarantine rules and Jacob Ramsey is likely to miss out too.
With Morgan Sanson beginning to step up his recovery, Keinan Davis and Trezeguet remain the only long term injuries.
Ezri Konsa, Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore could all be available.
It will also be interesting to see how Villa start with both Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins both fit for the trip.
Possible starting line up:
Steer, Young, Mings, Konsa, Cash, Luiz, McGinn, Bailey, El Ghazi, Watkins, Ings
Chelsea Team News
Reece James will miss the game following his red card at Anfield and Christian Pulisic will also be absent due to an ankle injury.
N’Golo Kante looks like he may also miss out and will face a late fitness test.
Romelu Lukaku had a thigh problem during the international break but it is seemingly only minor so he should start and there could be a debut for Saul Niguez following his move from Atletico Madrid.
Possible starting line up:
Mendy, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Chalobah, Christensen, Kovacic, Jorginho, Alonso, Havertz, Mount, Lukaku
One to watch:
It may seem an obvious choice but Romelu Lukaku is a clear threat and a huge upgrade for a Chelsea side that needed a leading striker last season.
His primary strengths are his finishing and he is powerful player who is particularly effective in the air.
It is a going to be a test for both Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa and Lukaku’s ability to create link ups off to supporting midfielders will draw upon all of Villa’s capabilities.
Last season in Serie, Lukaku scored 30 goals in 44 appearances across all competitions and followed up the season with four goals in Euro 2020, scoring against Russia (2), Finland and Italy.
Head to Head record:
Chelsea 64 wins, 35 Draws, Aston Villa 58 wins
Up until last season, Villa had won just one of their last 11 games in Premier League against Chelsea, losing the other ten.
Last season’s 1-1 draw away was followed up with a 2-1 win at Villa Park on the final day of the season.
Last five meetings:
23 May 2021 – Aston Villa 2-1 Chelsea (Premier League)
28 Dec 2020 – Chelsea 1-1 Aston Villa (Premier League)
21 Jun 2020 – Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea (Premier League)
04 Dec 2019 – Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa (Premier League)
02 Apr 2016 – Aston Villa 0-4 Chelsea (Premier League)
AVILLAFAN MATCH PREDICTION
I want to be as positive as possible about this one but there has to credit where it’s due and Thomas Tuchel is building something potentially very special at Chelsea.
For Villa, the best bet may be on the counter and with Bailey, Watkins and Ings all fit, any key chances will have to be taken and pace will play a key.
Antonio Rudiger will be a defender to try and draw out as his positioning and strength has resulted in some incredible stats of late.
Chelsea 3-1 Aston Villa
Tip of the day
Random on this week as Villa should have both Watkins and Bailey available.
Cesar Azpilicueta was one of Chelsea’s most booked players last season and the pace and creativity of both of the Villa men could result in another card today.
Azpilicueta to be carded 4/1.
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