Premier League Preview: Aston Villa - Chelsea
Roberto Di Matteo needs his side's recent upturn in form to start affecting results on the road, beginning with a rematch against the team which beat the visitor 3-1 in December.
By George Ankers
Lichaj, Cuellar, Collins, Warnock
Albrighton, Herd, Gardner, Ireland
Ferreira, Luiz, Terry, Cole
Ramires, Mata, Kalou
Aston Villa's already-thin squad has been stretched further by injuries, with Charles N'Zogbia (knee) expected to miss out for the second match in a row and captain Stilyan Petrov doubtful with an illness. Alan Hutton, too, is unavailable with a calf problem, meaning that American youngster Eric Lichaj is in line for his first start of the season.
Darren Bent's long-term injury make it likely that Emile Heskey will escape Alex McLeish's axe up front despite a poor performance in Villa's 3-0 defeat by Arsenal last time out.
Roberto Di Matteo would surprise nobody by keeping faith with the XI that excelled in Lisbon on Tuesday. The goalscorer in that game, Salomon Kalou, would therefore remain rather than Chelsea turning back to the likes of Daniel Sturridge.
The Blues' only injury of note is that of right back Branislav Ivanovic, still struggling with a muscle tear, with previously out-of-favor Paulo Ferreira the favorite to make another rare appearance on Saturday.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- Aston Villa has scored just three goals in its last six matches, a streak which includes no instances of two or more in any given match and goes back to February 1.
- Chelsea has played seven fixtures across all competitions under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo, winning five and drawing and losing only one apiece.
- Gary Cahill (pictured), a January acquisition for Chelsea, played 30 games for Villa between 2005 and 2008, when he moved to Bolton.
- The Blues have lost their last three away fixtures in the Premier League - to Everton (2-0), West Brom (1-0) and Manchester City (2-1).
- The hosts are slow starters, having yet to score in the opening 10 minutes of any of their league matches this season.
- Chelsea will be aiming to atone for its last meeting with the Villans, who stunned the Stamford Bridge crowd on Dec. 31 with a 3-1 victory.
- Aside from the injured Darren Bent, Villa's top goalscorer is Gabriel Agbonlahor with six for the season, but the forward has not found the net since the FA Cup clash with League Two outfit Bristol Rovers in January. The last time that Agbonlahor scored against a Premier League club was against Norwich City on Nov. 5.
- The Blues have only taken all three points on one of their last 12 visits to Villa Park, having drawn seven and lost four of their other matchups in the Midlands.
- When away from home in the Premier League, Chelsea are most likely to score between the 50th and 60th minutes, having netted 30 percent of their goals on the road during that period.
Top 3 Predictions
Aston Villa 0-2 Chelsea
- 24.63 %
Aston Villa 1-3 Chelsea
- 16.09 %
Aston Villa 0-3 Chelsea
- 14.93 %
|English Premier League (EPL) (EPL)||May 11, 2013||Aston Villa 1 - Chelsea 2|
|English Premier League (EPL) (EPL)||Dec 23, 2012||Chelsea 8 - Aston Villa 0|
|English Premier League (EPL) (EPL)||Mar 31, 2012||Aston Villa 2 - Chelsea 4|
|English Premier League (EPL) (EPL)||Dec 31, 2011||Chelsea 1 - Aston Villa 3|
|Club Friendlies (FR)||Jul 30, 2011||Aston Villa 0 - Chelsea 2|
|May 19, 2013||Wigan Athletic 2 - Aston Villa 2||EPL|
|May 11, 2013||Aston Villa 1 - Chelsea 2||EPL|
|May 4, 2013||Norwich City 1 - Aston Villa 2||EPL|
|Apr 29, 2013||Aston Villa 6 - Sunderland 1||EPL|
|Apr 22, 2013||Manchester United 3 - Aston Villa 0||EPL|
|12||John Obi Mikel||Midfielder|
Times In EDT
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed