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Aston Villa v CHELSEA: Preview

Date: Sunday 26th December 2021

Venue: Villa Park

Kick-off: 17:30 GMT

With seasons greetings and 70s singalongs still ringing in our ears, it’s back to business today for our Boxing Day fixture away to Aston Villa.

Like most clubs in the Premier League, Villa have had a covid-break, so they’ll be nice and fresh for this evening’s game, which must be nice for them. We wouldn’t know about that at Chelsea, of course, so worst case scenario we’ll be fielding players who could well feel as rough as a badger’s backside, or at best, whose boots have barely brushed a training pitch in the last few days.

No doubt about it, Villa have improved under Gerrard and prior to their break, had a win against Norwich. They won’t have Gerrard with them this evening though, because managers are also susceptible to positive covid tests it seems.

For Chelsea, its not been our greatest spell of football lately, in fact, its been a grim sight at times but we’ve had a silly amount of players out and we’ve had little sympathy and even less common sense from the powers that be, so it is what it is. To come through the last few games without defeat and with clean sheets from our last couple of games is not to be sniffed at but we’ve dropped more points than we’ll have wanted to and can’t afford to be dropping any more. Not ideal when you consider our Boxing Day’s for the last couple of seasons.

MANAGER’S VIEWS

Going into today’s game, Villa manager, Steven Gerrard, says You always prepare for the best Chelsea team. They’ve got a fixture tonight and I’m sure that team will look a lot different to the weekend because I’ve listened to Thomas’ (Tuchel) last few interviews and I think he’s going to protect and rest a few, which is understandable.  We will always prepare for the best team, in terms of the opponent. If for any reason it’s not a strong Chelsea team, we’ll deal with that.  What I would say is they’ve got a world class squad littered with world class players, so I’m sure if they’ve got enough players to carry the fixture out, we’re going to find a really strong Chelsea team.”

Thomas Tuchel, meanwhile, saysIt is a Premier League game at one of the toughest places where you can play in Aston Villa. It is good news, don’t get me wrong but I am not overexcited now because I know I need to check how they are.  If I understood it correctly, we need a negative test and we have negative tests for Romelu, Callum and Ben Chilwell. Ben Chilwell will not be involved against Aston Villa. The other two will be on the pitch tomorrow if they are again negative tomorrow. Then, we need to see, they have been ill and have symptoms but we will see.”

SQUAD NEWS

For Aston Villa, Marvelous Nakamba, Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore are all likely to miss out but they’ll have several players back and rested.

For Chelsea, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Kai Havertz (both covid) are likely to miss out again, Romelu Lukaku and Callum Hudson-Odoi are both available. Andreas Christensen (back) is back in contention but Hakim Ziyech (calf) is a doubt.

TEAMS (Covid tests permitting)

ASTON VILLA (Possible line-up): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Buendia, Watkins, Young

CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Mendy; Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger, James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Hudson-Odoi, Mount; Pulisic

CURRENT FORM (PL)

ASTON VILLA: WWLWLW

CHELSEA: DWLWDD

LAST SEASON

Aston Villa 2-1 Chelsea (23rd May 2021)

OTHER STUFF

  • Aston Villa won this fixture last season.
  • Aston Villa have won one of the past nine Premier League meetings.
  • Chelsea have won on five of their past seven league visits to Villa Park.
  • Aston Villa have taken 12 points in six games under Steven Gerrard.
  • Aston Villa have won three successive Boxing Day fixtures.
  • Aston Villa have lost 20 Premier League fixtures in 2021.
  • Chelsea have dropped 4 points in their last two Premier League games.
  • Chelsea have won just twice in six Premier League games.
  • Chelsea had dropped seven points from winning positions in their past eight Premier League games.

PREDICTION

BBC Sport: Aston Villa 0-2 Chelsea

Sportsmole: Aston Villa 1-1 Chelsea

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