Aston Villa vs Chelsea – Pre-game Assessment

It is hard to resist the temptation to compare Steven Gerrard’s Villa record with Dean Smith’s Villa record and it’s going to get even harder with the return fixtures coming up.  The first will be this Sunday at Villa Park when we face Chelsea. When we met at Stamford Bridge in early September, our Villans turned in an excellent performance, but one that saw us come away with a 3-0 loss despite 18 shots, six of which were on-target.

Villa can find encouragement in their recent, Gerrard-managed, record with four wins in six games while Chelsea’s Premier League equivalent is only two wins, three draws and a loss to round out in their six fixtures.  Maybe that’s not a huge difference (12 points versus 9), but it adds to an already positive vibe. Even the losses, to the league’s current dominant teams (Man City and Liverpool), were by a single goal and needed some late game desperation by these world-class squads to secure the result.

Chelsea might find themselves considering a draw as an acceptable result given their recent travails.  While they have the potential of a strong starting eleven, many will be coming back from injuries or COVID-19 isolation, and it is hard to imagine them being as cohesive as one would expect from a Thomas Tuchel prepared outfit.

Our Villans meanwhile, despite their loss of Nakamba for much of the balance of the season, have settled down nicely, with the almost ever-present Martinez and back four (Cash, Konsa, Mings, and Targett) as good as any. They are well supported by an exceptional midfield trio of McGinn, Luiz, and Ramsey combining for defensive coverage and offensive support, plus real goal-scoring ability (five between McGinn and Ramsey).

Up front, there is a little bit more uncertainty with only Ollie Watkins a given.  It appears that he will be flanked by two out of Buendia, Young and Carney Chukwuemeka.  The Argentinian is gaining in match fitness game by game, Young has performed admirably in whatever position he has been assigned (or whenever, often being subbed in).  Still, Chukwuemeka has been the most surprising, demonstrating considerable poise for someone so young (barely 18) when coming off the bench as a sub.  He was instrumental in running out the clock against Leicester and almost scored against Man City, only to be robbed by the brilliant Edison.

I would not be surprised if we chalk up another home win, say 2-1, with Ollie and Carney getting the goals and the glory.

Aston Villa 2, Chelsea 1

We’ll take that. Thank you very much.


Likely Starting xi:

Aston Villa (4,3,3): Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Douglas Luiz, Jacob Ramsey, McGinn, Carney Chukwuemeka, Watkins, Buendía

Chelsea (3,4,2,1): Mendy, Chalobah, Silva, Rudiger, James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso, Mount, Kante, Pulisic

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