Date: Sunday 24th Sept 2023
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 14::00 BST
No travels for us this year, so we won’t be able to use that to excuse any nonsense today.
Our opponents, Aston Villa, on the other hand, have played away to Legia Warsaw in the Europa Conference League but the fact they lost that, is unlikely to be of benefit to us.
It’s blatantly apparent The Villains, who sit 7th in the table, have had a much better start to the season than we have. They’ve picked up 9 points so far, with defeats only coming against Newcastle and Liverpool.
For us, we’ve taken just 5 points so far and our defeats have come against West Ham and Forest, and last time out, we only managed a 0-0 draw against Bournemouth. Yes, we hit the woodwork a couple of times and had a few chances but in truth, we were laughable in front of goal – and its sadly all too familiar. Much like last season, an hour into games, we look like the rabbit with the cheap supermarket batteries rather than the Duracell bunny. So, with failure to take chances now almost innate behaviour in a Chelsea shirt, any early promise fizzles out and by half-time, the rest of the game is frustratingly predictable.
Of course, we’ve had so many injuries, we could actually field a starting XI in the treatment room every week and there’s not much movement on that front, so I don’t see any major change from us for a while yet.
Villa will be delighted its us they’re facing after their midweek trip.
Going into today’s game, Chelsea manager, Mauricio Pochettino, says “It’s a really important game for us, we need to win, we need to keep playing well – because I think we are playing well. As seen in the last few weeks we need to be more clinical in front of goal and to convert chances. That is the most important thing in football because I think we are in all the data in the top four – it’s difficult to find some data that says Chelsea are not on the top – but in the efficiency in front of goal, we are in the bottom, and that is why we don’t have the points we deserve.
I’m not frustrated because I think the team is performing well. With performances we cannot complain, missing many, many key players. I am not frustrated, I am disappointed because I think many teams with less [chances] score more. That is why we feel bad, because the players deserve more, the team deserves more. But the only way to find what we want is to keep pushing, keep playing, keep doing the right things that we’re doing, and replicate again and again, every single game. I am so happy in the way they [the players] felt after Bournemouth, and of course after Nottingham [Forest]; they really care about the club, about winning games and performing better. I think this week was good to work really hard.
They [Villa] have a very good squad, very good players, and I think they’re prepared to compete in Europe. For us I think it looks like [we have competed too] – Bournemouth [we had] 15 players – we need to use three, four players from the academy. I think for us, it’s about recovering players from injuries and players that were out on international break. For us the circumstances I think are good – we have time to work, it was a very good week. We work really, really hard with the players that we have and then time to recover players.”
Aston Villa manager, Unai Emery, meanwhile, says “I am using my experiences in Europe and playing a lot of matches during the week. We are building a team. We do not only need 11, 12, 15 players, we will need 20, 22, 25 players. Some injuries are coming like with important injuries to Tyrone Mings and Emiliano Buendia, and then small injuries like Diego Carlos.
We made [v Legia Warsaw] some mistakes, unusual tactical mistakes, but I spoke to the players and said it was a small accident. We will analyse and react to improve the mistakes we did. The players are very excited about the Conference League and we’re going to play another five matches. Everything that happened yesterday was to learn about how to build a team in the way we want.
[Chelsea] are a very good team with a very good coach. Previously, they were contenders to be in the top seven teams in the Premier League. It’s a tough match.”
For Chelsea, Christopher Nkunku (knee) is a long-term absentee. Carney Chukwuemeka, Marcus Bettinelli, and Wesley Fofana (all knee) all remain out, along with Romeo Lavia (ankle). The game also comes too soon for Benoit Badiashile (thigh), Trevoh Chalobah (thigh), and Reece James (hamstring). Armando Broja is unlikely to be risked although Marc Cucurella may be available again and Noni Madueke is expected to be fit. Moises Caicedo will face a late assessment.
For Aston Villa, Emiliano Buendia and Tyrone Mings are the only
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Sanchez; Gusto, Disasi, Silva, Colwill; Gallagher, Fernandez, Ugochukwu, Sterling; Jackson, Mudryk
ASTON VILLA (Possible line-up): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Torres, Digne; Kamara, Luiz; Diaby, McGinn, Zaniolo; Watkins
CURRENT FORM (PL)
ASTON VILLA: LWWLW
Chelsea 0-2 Aston Villa (1st April 2023)
- Chelsea lost 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in this fixture in April.
- Aston Villa haven’t managed back-to-back away league wins against Chelsea since 1933.
- Chelsea have won just two from their 17 most recent league games.
- Aston Villa have won just one of their past seven Premier League away games.
- Chelsea have registered just four home league wins in the past 18 attempts.
- Aston Villa are unbeaten in all four Premier League games in London under Unai Emery (W2, D2).
- Chelsea’s only win last season against the teams that finished in the top half of the table came against Aston Villa in October 2022.
- Aston Villa’s only top-flight clean sheet in 10 on the road came in a 2-0 win at Chelsea on 1 April.
Sportsmole: Chelsea 1-1 Aston Villa