There can be no playing down the fact that Villa arrive at Stamford Bridge in rather good shape. In fact, despite blips against Brighton and West Ham, Dean Smith now finds himself with the opportunity to make this 4 games unbeaten.
Victories over West Brom and Crystal Palace were confident performances, featuring passages of play that saw us attacking in a rampant manner. The second half and two of the goals against Palace came even though we were down to ten men, for instance.
Further, the recent draw with Burnley shouldn’t be dismissed. The Clarets saw their goal peppered 27 times over the 90 minutes.
Chelsea, however, shouldn’t be underestimated, with the historic stats for Villa’s trips to Stamford Bridge slim pickings in terms of wins and away goals. However, the formbook has been torn up by this new look Villa side, which has 5 wins in 6 whilst on the road.
Frank Lampard recruited heavily in the summer but the Blues’ recent form has been lacklustre. A surprise defeat against struggling Arsenal on Boxing Day saw the Chelsea boss withdraw the misfiring Timo Werner as well as describe their performance as “lazy”.
For Smith, the trip to Chelsea represents another test of where this season can lead. It’s an opportunity, remarkably, to strike for the upper echelons of the Premier League. Afterall, a win would take Villa into third, whilst still holding a game in hand.
Nothing is of course straightforward. This is both teams second game in 48 hours and fatigue could reasonably play its part. Chelsea are expected to rotate, but Dean Smith doesn’t have this luxury due to suspension (Mings), injury (Trezeguet, Wesley) and a lack of quality squad depth.
This could be a very interesting game indeed, with Chelsea stuttering and Villa now suggesting that the transition from competitive outfit to outright dangerous opposition is now well progressed.
VILLA TEAM NEWS
Confirmed Aston Villa side to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge:
Cash, Konsa, Hause, Targett.
Luiz, McGinn, Traore, Grealish (C), El Ghazi
On the substitutes bench:
Heaton, Elmohamady, Guilbert, Engels, Taylor, Nakamba, Hourihane, Ramsay, Davis.
Check out the 40 Things You Need To Know ahead of Chelsea vs Aston Villa.
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