Villa head to Stamford Bridge in high spirits after an excellent away display at Manchester United (2-2) on Sunday evening.
Chelsea are a very different beast to United though, with Frank Lampard a surprise choice as new manager, against a backdrop of a transfer embargo and an owner in exile.
Whilst this fixture is annoyingly billed as a Lampard vs Terry encounter, including in pre-match Amazon Prime hype during fixtures aired on the new service on 3rd December, it underlines Villa’s resurgence.
Under Smith, with Terry influencial but very much under the manager’s wing, the club have quietly impressed supporters inside and outside of Villa Park. Pundits too have recently backtracked on the lazy journalistic claims that owing to significant summer investment that Villa were ‘doing a Fulham’.
The reality of course was that Villa had to strengthen given the number of loans, contracts ending and the natural turnover of a promoted squad. However, the latter was the least impactful.
The key to this has been our competitive edge, leading European Champions Liverpool until the 87th minute, a 2-0 advantage at The Emirates and impressing until an early second half mistake at Manchester City.
Last time out it was Villa’s ability to take the game to Manchester United and a superb goal for England hopeful Jack Grealish that prompted many to rethink their position on our club.
We are a long way from the dismal side that resigned itself from Premier League status in 2015, this is a team that won’t be going to Chelsea timidly.
We are aware our hosts are dangerous, indeed, we know Tammy Abraham’s goal threat all too well with his 20+ strikes firing us to promotion. However, we also carry threats of our own which can be exploited against a home side that lost 2 in the last 5.
A win over Newcastle and a draw against United take the pressure off the trip and one wonders that if Villa can navigate themselves safely in the latter portion of the game unscathed, that perhaps, there could be a surprise on the cards.
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Editiorial by Dan Rogers – Join The Team
Fan View & Additional Reporting by Korben O’Brien
LAST TIME OUT
Read Match Report: Man Utd 2-2 Aston Villa
Jack Grealish put Villa 1-0 up in spectacular fashion early on, curling home beautifully in front of the Stretford End.
A Tom Heaton own goal/Rashford finish and a Lindelof header turned the game around for the hosts, but Tyrone Mings volleyed home to ensure the spoils were ultimately shared.
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Villa’s captain made a welcome return from injury with a superb display against Newcastle which was carried into the game at Old Trafford. The 24 year old was not fazed by the occasion and sent the away fans into delirium by despatching a goal of the season contender.
Encouragingly, Grealish looked very dangerous every time he got on the ball despite being fouled a game high seven times by the hosts.
Mings Maiden Goal
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Villa defender Tyrone Mings has won the fans over ever since the middle of last season with his defensive prowess, but he got on the scoresheet for the first time in the Premier League on Sunday.
Dean Smith’s side had fallen behind two minutes before but Villa went in search of an immediate response, with Mings volleying home a pin-point Matt Targett cross.
The initial celebration was muted, such is the uncertainty surrounding VAR these days, but the goal was eventually awarded moments later to delayed limbs in the away following.
“My predicition is that it is going to be a tough game but i feel Villa go to Stamford Bridge with momentum and confidence and i fancy us to take something from Stamford Bridge”.
Score Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Villa – with Jack Grealish scoring for Villa
VillaUnderground.com View by Dan Rogers:
“Villa should take much heart from encouraging displays, but we’ve yet to pull off a shock result. However, it does feel like there’s a surprise result in the offing and with the likes of Grealish, McGinn and co collectively in good form, a sneaky away win might just be possible. Stamford Bridge isn’t an easy place to go, but Smith is a diligent manager in terms of preperation and totally out-thought Lampard in the playoff final against Derby. I feel that if we can get into the final quarter of the game with a chance, that we might be able to sneak a late winner.”
- Kick off 19:30pm GMT – Only available on Amazon Prime.
- Venue: Stamford Bridge (London, England)
- Jack Grealish has been directly involved in 7 goals in the Premier League this season (3 goals ) and(4 assists) the most of any English midfielder. (OPTA)
- Jack Grealish is the most fouled player in the Premier League – 53 (BBC SPORT)
- Chelsea have suffered back-to-back defeats – losing 1-0 to West Ham at the weekend.
- Tammy Abraham missed this defeat but is likely to return for the hosts.
- Anwar El Ghazi is expected to miss out with a knee injury picked up against Man Utd.
- Keinan Davis and Jed Steer are still unavailable through injury for Dean Smith.
- Frederic Guilbert is suspended with Elmohamady likely to deputise at right back.
- Chelsea have won the last four league meetings between the sides.
- Chelsea Team (4-2-3-1): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho; Willian, Mount, Pulisic; Abraham
- Villa Team (4-3-3): Heaton; Elmohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Hourihane, McGinn, Douglas Luiz; Trezeguet, Wesley, Grealish
- Betting Outlook:
- Chelsea to win: 1/3
- Villa to win: Between 10/1
- Draw: 5/1
- Sources: The Stat Zone, BBC Sport, Opta, The Standard.