Jeffrey Bruma ready to sweep in for suspended IvanovicBack On Track?
Chelsea finally got that elusive win on Wednesday night at home to Bolton and the sighs of relief in west London were positively palpable. The Blues just might have turned a corner and can begin hauling back the ground that has opened up between them and the top three of Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City.
At Arsenal on Monday the Blues looked like they couldn't decide if they wanted to win the league or not, but there was a more determined streak about them two days later against Bolton and if success is measured in confidence, Chelsea really need to believe they can still nab the title.
Villa are also suffering a crisis of confidence but find themselves even further down the table. A terrible festive period that saw Gerard Houllier's team concede six goals in two outings, scoring just one, means the Villans are firmly involved in a relegation battle.
The arrival of former Arsenal star Robert Pires has failed to lift the mood at Villa Park and with a combination of injuries, self doubt and aggitated fans, there is a distinct feeling of gloom around the place at the moment. If results go against them they could even be dragged into the bottom three with defeat at Stamford Bridge, almost unthinkable for the side that was pushing for Europe last season under Martin O'Neill.
Carlo Ancelotti's defensive woes continue after Branislav Ivanovic picked up his fifth booking of the season against Bolton, meaning he will sit out the visit of Aston Villa. Paulo Ferreira made sure he won't be selected at centre-back again after his nightmare display against Sunderland so it falls to youngster Jeffrey Bruma to fill the void. The 19-year-old hasn't yet made a first-team start but it looks like Ancelotti is out of options.
Meanwhile, fellow defender Alex remains sidelined for at least another month while Yossi Benayoun's Achilles injury means he won't see any action until the end of the season.
Possible lineup: Cech; Bosingwa, Bruma, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Ramires, Lampard; Malouda, Anelka, Drogba.
Emile Hesky has shaken off his ankle knock and is available for the trip to Stamford Bridge. The former Liverpool striker has scored five goals in 12 games for the Villans this season and, despite receiving plenty of criticism, could be just the outlet Gerard Houllier's men need at Chelsea, especially if young Bruma plays.
In other news, Ashley Young resumed training this week after recoving from a knee problem that had kept him sidelined for two weeks and is likely to make the bench. Luke Young's ankle injury, though, hasn't healed in time for him to be involved.
Possibe lineup: Friedel; Cuellar, Lichaj, Collins, Warnock; Albrighton, Reo-Coker, Petrov, Downing; Heskey, Agbonlahor.