Chelsea vs Aston Villa – Pre-game Assessment

Sunday, Sep. 24, 2 pm – Stamford Bridge

Referee: Jarred Gillett

Villa’s last visit to Stamford Bridge was on April 1st, 2023, and our Villans came away with a victory (2-0) that was memorable, mostly for it leading to the firing of Chelsea manager Graham Potter.  The change in management did not turn the fortunes of this elite team as they ended the season in 12th place, even behind Crystal Palace.

Five games into this new season, the Blues are 14th with Mauricio Pochettino at the helm with their only victory being against lowly Luton Town and in their last two games failing to score against Nottingham Forest at home and against Bournemouth away.

While we Villa fans feel gutted by losing Mings and Buendia within a week, then further rattled by seeing Diego Carlos go down at Anfield, Chelsea fans likely feel even worse.  After enjoying an incredible 19-year run under Roman Abramovich, the enforced sale last year has been a nightmare with new owner interference in team management reaping predictable results.  To top it all, they are experiencing the same injury problems as our Villans. 

Moises CaicedoArmando BrojaNoni MaduekeMarc Cucurella, Reece James, and our own Carney Chukwuemeka have been sidelined though some may have recovered enough to be on the bench for this Sunday’s game.  Meanwhile, most of their threat has been coming from their right side where Raheem Sterling has been showing signs of his Man City form, Connor Gallagher is more like his Crystal Palace version, and Gusto is living up to his name.

Meanwhile, our Villans are coming off a spirited come from behind win against Crystal Palace, with three goals, the first in the 87th minute and the other two in injury time.  The slip in Warsaw in the midweek in the Europa Conference League was a disappointment but a wake-up call that the team will have to put the same focus against teams from lower-echelon leagues as they put against Premier League opponents.

Other than reflecting on their poor performances at St. James Park and at Anfield, the team should go into this fixture more confident than their opponents.  The Stamford Bridge crowd will not have recovered from that recent embarrassing home defeat to Notts Forest and will be, naturally, nervous.  That makes for a bad vibe for the home team, something we Villa fans can remember from not too long ago.  If Villa score the first goal or even get to half time at 0-0, the pressure on Chelsea players will be intense.

Emery, no doubt, managed his player minutes in Warsaw with one eye on this fixture.  Consequently, there should be nobody unavailable to start or to contribute from the bench.  I would not be surprised to see Jacob Ramsey start to strengthen our left side defense, with Bailey and Zaniolo on the bench. 

While we could easily win, our recent fragility at the back suggests that we will not keep a clean sheet.  In fact, even our star goalie was sub-par against Palace and worse against Legia Warsaw, and Pau Torres has yet to play a solid defensive game.

It’s time for Watkins and Diaby to score in the same game and that should be enough for us to walk away with three points, but I doubt we will.

Result Prediction:

We are heading in the right direction, but I don’t think we are there just yet.  Prediction:  Chelsea 2, Aston Villa 2.

Predicted Villa Line-Up:

We predict the Villa line-up will be similar to last week’s starting line-up with Ramsey coming in for Zaniolo and Alex Moreno will have to wait for his first start.

Aston Villa: Martínez, Cash, Konsa, Torres, Digne, Kamara, Luiz, McGinn, Ramsey, Diaby, Watkins

Subs: Moreno, Olsen, Zaniolo, Bailey, Chambers, Marschall

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