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October 16, 2010 12:30 PM EDT
Villa Park — Birmingham
Referee:‬ L. Mason‎
Attendance:‬ 40122‎

Aston Villa - Chelsea Preview: Blues Facing Defensive Crisis As John Terry Injury Could Leave Club With One Fit Centre-Back

By Danny Hart

FA Cup: Gabriel Agbonlahor- Jon Obi Mikel , Aston Villa - Chelsea(Getty Images)
European Battle Alive And Well

Aston Villa were expected to challenge for a place in the Europa League again this season following three successive sixth-placed finishes. Martin O’Neill’s departure - and a 6-0 hammering away at Newcastle United - threw into doubt whether they would be able to maintain their league position. However, they now lie eighth in the table and, with Everton and Liverpool both struggling this season, could be set for another European challenge.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have had one of the best starts ever to a Premier League season. Carlo Ancelotti’s men have won six out of their first seven games, scoring 23 goals and conceding just twice in the process. Even a defeat to Villa would still see the Blues top the table due to their four point lead over their nearest challengers, second-placed Manchester City.

Deja Vu?

Chelsea arrived at Villa Park in mid-October last season after a blistering start in the Premier League, having lost only once and having just beat one of the ‘big four’, Liverpool, 2-0 at home. While the statistics are remarkably similar, few would expect the Blues to lose on this occasion.

Ancelotti’s side - one of the biggest, strongest, most physical teams in the top flight - were surprisingly undone by two set-pieces at Villa Park last season, losing 2-1 courtesy of goals from centre-backs James Collins and Richard Dunne. However, later in the campaign Chelsea were to get their revenge, battering Villa 7-0 at Stamford Bridge in the league and 3-0 at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final.


Aston Villa

The hosts have problems in attack as Emile Heskey remains doubtful after picking up calf and shin injuries against Tottenham, while Gabriel Agbonlahor is still recovering from groin surgery, so John Carew may start.

Gerard Houllier faces a selection dilemma in defence due to Carlos Cuellar’s form this season but looks likely to continue with James Collins alongside Richard Dunne.

Young duo Fabian Delph (knee) and Andreas Weimann (foot) remain long-term absentees.

Probable starting XI: Friedel; L Young, Collins, Dunne, Warnock; Albrighton, Reo-Coker, Petrov, Downing; A Young; Carew.


Uncertainty remains over the fitness of John Terry (back) and Frank Lampard (groin). The duo missed England’s Euro 2012 qualifier with Montenegro but could return at Villa Park.

Should Terry miss out, the Blues will be short of cover in defence. Alex won’t return until the end of the month with hip and thigh problems, Jose Bosingwa is unlikely to be rushed back after a year out with a knee injury and youngster Jeffrey Bruma is struggling with a hamstring problem.

Meanwhile, the Blues were struck another blow this week as summer signing Yossi Benayoun was ruled out until April with an Achilles injury.

Probable starting XI: Cech; Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Essien, Mikel, Ramires; Anelka, Drogba, Malouda.

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Last Five Matches
Team News
Available Squads
24Brad FriedelGoalkeeper
23Habib BeyeDefender
19James CollinsDefender
5Richard DunneDefender
13Stephen WarnockDefender
32Stephen IrelandMidfielder
20Nigel Reo-CokerMidfielder
19Stilian PetrovMidfielder
19Stewart DowningMidfielder
18Ashley YoungMidfielder
10John Alieu CarewStriker
1Bradley GuzanGoalkeeper
24Carlos Javier CuéllarDefender
43Eric LichajDefender
46Barry BannanMidfielder
6Ciaran ClarkDefender
14Nathan DelfounesoStriker
7Steve SidwellMidfielder
1Petr CechGoalkeeper
20Paulo FerreiraDefender
2Branislav IvanovicDefender
26John TerryDefender
3Ashley ColeDefender
-Michael EssienMidfielder
12John Obi MikelMidfielder
44Gäel KakutaMidfielder
39Nicolas AnelkaStriker
15Florent MaloudaMidfielder
21Ross TurnbullGoalkeeper
5Jeffrey BrumaDefender
-Jacob MellisStriker
31Fabio BoriniStriker
18Yuri ZhirkovMidfielder
3José BosingwaDefender
51Josh McEachranMidfielder
Probable Lineups
Brad Friedel 24
Habib Beye 23
James Collins 19
Richard Dunne 5
Stephen Warnock 13
Stephen Ireland 32
Nigel Reo-Coker 20
Stilian Petrov 19
Stewart Downing 19
Ashley Young 18
John Alieu Carew 10
Petr Cech 1
Paulo Ferreira 20
Branislav Ivanovic 2
John Terry 26
Ashley Cole 3
Michael Essien 0
John Obi Mikel 12
Ramires 7
Gäel Kakuta 44
Nicolas Anelka 39
Florent Malouda 15
Editor's Prediction
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Player   Goals Penalties
Luis Suárez Luis Suárez
29 0
Daniel Sturridge Daniel Sturridge
20 0
Yaya Touré Yaya Touré
Man City
18 6
Wayne Rooney Wayne Rooney
Man United
15 2
Sergio Agüero Sergio Agüero
Man City
15 0