Just like most of the games this weekend, this clash involves two sides who have everything to play for. Aston Villa’s position of 11th may sound respectable on paper, but the fact that they sit just six points above the bottom three suggests that their relegation woes are not yet over. Chelsea on the other hand need a win to continue their title charge, with the Blues six points ahead of 2nd place at the time of writing.
Aston Villa are no different to most sides in the bottom half – they are just unable to put any consistent results together. While they will be buoyed following their recent 4-1 victory over Norwich, prior to that they had lost three of four matches. In fact, their home form can be described as questionable at best and a return of two wins from their last nine at Villa Park shows that this is a big weakness for Paul Lambert’s side. Still, they were hugely unlucky to lose to Chelsea in the game at Stamford Bridge back in August, and Lambert will be looking to remind his players of this ahead of this late Saturday outing.
Chelsea on the other hand know that the pressure is on to net a title in Jose Mourinho’s second stint in charge. Following Manchester City’s early win on Saturday, the Blues’ margin at the top has been cut to six points and they will also know that their Northern neighbours also hold two games in hand. This has led Mourinho to claim that City are still favourites for the title, although looking at the form book one would have to question such comments. The Stamford Bridge outfit thrashed Tottenham 4-0 in their most recent outing, with this contributing to an unbeaten run of fourteen league games. Having also won five of their last six, it would appear very likely that Mourinho is dabbling in his famous mind games.
As for team news, Aston Villa won’t be able to call upon Ryan Bertrand for this outing with the full back ineligible to play against his parent club. However, this is the only absentee that Villa have to contend with, meaning that Lambert is only likely to make changes at the back. It’s a slightly different story for Chelsea on the other hand, with David Luiz and Ashley Cole both unavailable on the sidelines. There is better news in relation to Fernando Torres though, with the Spaniard available despite missing the last match through a groin injury.
In terms of a prediction, we think this will be a straightforward victory for Chelsea. Aston Villa may have comprehensively won their last home match, but in general their form at Villa Park is poor. Bearing this in mind, our tip is going to be a 2-0 win for Jose Mourinho’s team.