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Premier League

  • 31 December 2011
  • • 15:00
  • • Stamford Bridge, London
  • Referee: M. Halsey
  • • Attendance: 41332
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Chelsea - Aston Villa Preview: Andre Villas-Boas' side have drawn last three games

The Londoners have endured three 1-1 results in consecutive Premier League outings and face a Midlands outfit who have registered just one win away from home so far


PROBABLE LINEUPS

CHELSEA

Cech
Ferreira, Terry, Luiz, Cole
Lampard, Meireles, Romeu
Mata, Torres, Sturridge
ASTON VILLA

Guzan
Hutton, Collins, Dunne, Warnock
Albrighton, Clark, Petrov, N'Zogbia
Agbonlahor, Heskey

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas may be forced into one defensive change against Villa, with full-back Jose Bosingwa unlikely to have recovered from a hamstring injury sustained against Fulham.

That could mean a starting berth for Paulo Ferreira and he will join a side containing Oriol Romeu, who looks to have cemented a place in midfield in the absence of Jon Obi Mikel.

With Didier Drogba's departure for the Africa Cup of Nations fast approaching, the need for an understanding to be struck amongst the Blues' remaining attackers could mean they start together yet again.

For the visitors, Shay Given is unlikely to prove fit enough to feature, meaning Brad Guzan will continue to deputise in goal.

Alex McLeish will be boosted, however, by the return of Alan Hutton after the Scot served a one-match suspension for a red card.

Emile Heskey is unlikely to return from an achilles injury but reports suggest that Villa's main goal threat, Darren Bent, could overcome a thigh injury in time to feature.


DID YOU KNOW?
  • This fixture has provided an incredible 24 goals in its last four incarnations, including a 3-3 draw last season.
  • Chelsea have conceded 13 goals at Stamford Bridge so far this season, as many as they conceded at home in the entirety of last term.
  • Chelsea have the third most potent attack in the Premier League this season, behind both Manchester clubs, having scored 22 goals.
  • Blues forward Fernando Torres (pictured right) could well end the year having netted more times in the Premier League in 2011 for Liverpool (four) than Chelsea (three) despite leaving Merseyside in January.
  • Aston Villa last won at Stamford Bridge in May 2002, with Peter Crouch amongst the goalscorers.
  • Alex McLeish tasted success over Chelsea last season, with a 1-0 as manager of Birmingham City.
  • Villa have drawn six of their nine away fixtures this season, more than any other Premier League side.
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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Petr CechGoalkeeper
3Ashley ColeDefender
23David LuizDefender
20Paulo FerreiraDefender
26John TerryDefender
-Oriol RomeuMidfielder
7RamiresMidfielder
14Raúl MeirelesMidfielder
8Juan MataStriker
11Didier DrogbaStriker
15Daniel SturridgeStriker
21Ross TurnbullGoalkeeper
3José BosingwaDefender
51Sam HutchinsonDefender
8Frank LampardMidfielder
15Florent MaloudaMidfielder
9Fernando TorresStriker
8Salomon KalouStriker
1Bradley GuzanGoalkeeper
13Stephen WarnockDefender
5Richard DunneDefender
19James CollinsDefender
6Ciaran ClarkDefender
24Carlos Javier CuéllarDefender
32Stephen IrelandMidfielder
-Charles N'ZogbiaMidfielder
12Marc AlbrightonMidfielder
19Stilian PetrovMidfielder
11Gabriel AgbonlahorStriker
33Andy MarshallGoalkeeper
6Alan HuttonDefender
46Barry BannanMidfielder
22Gary GardnerMidfielder
39Darren BentStriker
14Nathan DelfounesoStriker
10Andreas WeimannStriker
Players to Watch
Oriol Romeu
Oriol Romeu
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 0
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The young midfielder was perhaps not expected to play quite as large a role with the Blues when he signed from Barcelona in the summer.

However, injuries and the Londoners' poor form has meant he has featured more regularly and impressed with his clean tackling and clever distribution.

His former club have this week even been alleged to be considering exercising a buy-back clause, such has been his impressive contribution, and he will be as key as ever to the Chelsea midfield in this game.
Darren Bent
Darren Bent
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 39
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Villa have netted just once in their last three fixtures, a run that has coincided with the absence of forward Bent through injury.

He is a proven goal threat and, given that the visitors are expected to be on the back foot throughout, could prove a dangerous outlet to keep the Chelsea defence busy even if he does not start due to a lack of sharpness.
Prediction
Chelsea have drawn their last three fixtures and it is a lack of fluidity in attack along with miscommunication in defence which has combined to compound their woes.

The form of Torres is perhaps the most obvious worry for manager Villas-Boas but a defence consistently leaking goals is an equally pressing issue.

However, they face a Villa side who have scored just eight times away from home this season and, should the Chelsea defence hold against such a profligate attack, they are likely to net at least once to ensure victory.
Editor's Prediction

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