Date: Saturday 1st April 2023
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
For the first time in I can’t remember how long, I was in no rush for the internationals to be over. I mean, what’s to look forward to, more of the same? We’d kidded ourselves we’d turned a corner but realistically, we’d not even made it halfway down the road and we stalled. And don’t even get me started on the injuries, illnesses, and general lack of fitness this season. 1999/2000, when players were still allowed to challenge for the ball, we had an average age of 31.1 and didn’t have anything like the fragility we’re seeing now.
We are where we are, as they say, and today, we’re at home and Aston Villa are the visitors. Typically, it’s a resurgent Villa because that can happen under a new manager allegedly. In fact, they’ve earned 26 points from 14 games under Unai Emery, with only Arsenal, City and United doing better during that period.
We’ve won just three of our last nine at home in the Premier League and whilst fewer goals have been scored at Stamford Bridge this season than at any other ground, Villa’s improvement under the new manager has seen them score in all of his 16 competitive games. As for our manager, well Potter is without a win in all five home games as a manager against Aston Villa in all competitions.
We had a predictably frustrating result against Everton before the break, in a game they had no right to get anything out of, but Charity FC struck again and offered up a point for them to take home. So, the 3-game winning run and any hopes of making an improvement on 10th place went swiftly out the window. Villa, on the other hand, had a 3-0 win against Bournemouth last time out, bringing them level with us on points.
Two mid-table sides, neck and neck going into today’s game. Exhilarating stuff.
Going into today’s game, Graham Potter says “It’s going to be an exciting month. The focus of us is to stay present to think about the next game. It’s a very tough game against Aston Villa. We’re at home, we want to respond to the disappointment we had against Everton in terms of dropping points so we’re looking forward to that.
We always want to improve. I think we’ve made some steps and we need to carry on with that. Attack better, defend better, create more chances, concede less chances. Sounds simple but that’s what we need to. We’re Chelsea and we want to win. Regardless of the league position in 11 games time we have to focus on the next game and try to win. We want to try and beat Aston Villa, then we play Liverpool, we try to win that then we play Wolves and try to win that and the consequences of that are what they are. We just need to play to win.”
Aston Villa manager Unai Emery, meanwhile, says “Chelsea are a candidate to be in the top four but after 27 games, they are not. They have very good players and their coach is amazing. His work in Brighton was amazing and he needs time to adapt his ideas to Chelsea. Progressively, they are doing better. We are in the same position. We are 11th but we’re really close and with the same points as Chelsea. We’re close to teams that are having a very good season: Fulham, Brentford, Brighton. We are excited by the prospect, for the first time, to be close to them.
(Thomas) Tuchel’s work was amazing with Chelsea, but Potter’s work in Brighton was amazing as well. He deserved to take a step ahead with a team like Chelsea. They are progressing, and everything he did in Brighton he can do in Chelsea. He needs time, he needs matches and to know his players better. They played very well in the Champions League. In the Premier League, they’re not keeping the balance of being consistent in the table. For us, Saturday is a match against one of the best teams in the Premier League, with a very good coach, with very good players. It’s a very good challenge, and I came here because I want to play against the best teams.”
For Chelsea, Armando Broja (ACL), Thiago Silva (knee), and Cesar Azpilicueta remain out, and the game comes too soon for Raheem Sterling (hamstring) and Wesley Fofana. Christian Pulisic (illness) is a doubt. Mason Mount (abdominal) and N’Golo Kante (thigh) will be in the squad but are unlikely to start, whilst Reece James and Kai Havertz are available despite coming back early from their national teams.
For Aston Villa, Matty Cash (calf), Jed Steer and Philippe Coutinho are out, but Boubacar Kamara (ankle) is fit and Leander Dendoncker also returns.
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Kepa; Badiashile, Koulibaly, Cucurella, James, Fernandez, Kovacic, Chilwell; Mudryk, Havertz, Felix
ASTON VILLA (Possible line-up): Martinez; Young, Konsa, Mings, Moreno; McGinn, Luiz; Bailey, Buendia, Ramsey; Watkins
Chelsea 3-0 Aston Villa (11 September 2021)
ASTON VILLA: LLWWDW
- Chelsea have won nine of the last 11 Premier League meetings.
- Aston Villa’s only win in their last 19 away games against Chelsea in all competitions was in a league game in 2011.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in three league games.
- Aston Villa are looking to go five league matches without defeat for the first time since December 2020.
- All 10 of Chelsea’s league wins this season have been against teams currently in the bottom half of the table.
- Aston Villa have taken 13 points out of a possible 18 in away matches since Emery took charge.
- There have been 26 Premier League goals scored at Stamford Bridge in 2022-23, fewer than at any other ground.
- Aston Villa have scored in all 14 Premier League games under Emery.
Sportsmole: Chelsea 1-1 Aston Villa