Aston Villa v Chelsea 2015

After a capitulation during last weekend’s trip to the Emirates that seemed to undo this season’s defensive improvement, the signs aren’t good as Chelsea head to Villa Park. There are some strange stats concerning Chelsea and Villa Park, though.. could we see an upset to get our season back on track?

Lambert on relegation worries

“I wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t think we can do it. You don’t need to tell me the fans are worried – I know.

“We will be alright. The season won’t be defined by games against Arsenal and Chelsea.

“I’ve never been negative as a person. I can see what my players give me and if I thought they had gone, then that makes things really difficult but I’ve never felt that way.

“But if you sit there and think I don’t feel the pressure, then I will swap seats with you.”

Lambert on Benteke

“If I had Christian right on his game, performing when he was back from injury, I’m pretty sure I’d have long list of clubs knocking down the door for him.

“He’s had a dip in form, he’s human like everyone else. We can’t rest everything on his shoulders.

“We’re working hard to get him back to what we know he can do. It’s something we have to get him through.”

Mourinho when asked why he never wins at Villa Park 

“Because the opponents score more goals than us, or sometimes the same number of goals. I don’t have to speak about Aston Villa.”

…and when asked what he learnt from the 1-0 loss

“I learned nothing that I hadn’t learned before that. There are matches that are impossible to win and you have to be smart enough to understand that.

“After so many years in football, there are matches that I clearly know it’s impossible to win.”

 

Memory Match

15th March 2014 Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 0

One of the best performances of the season saw Mourinho’s men fall to an excellently taken goal from Fabian Delph. Other highlights included Ron Vlaar outpacing Eden Hazard…

Villa – Last five matches at home: W 1, D 3, L 1

Chelsea – Last five matches away: W 2, D 1, L 2

Villa have won two of the last five league meetings against Chelsea at Villa Park

One to Watch

Eden Hazard – with no Costa or Fabregas, the Belgian will be a key player for Chelsea and will be looking to add to his impressive record of 8 goals and 5 assists

Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet

Villa’s poor goalscoring stats have been repeated so often lately that everybody seems to know them. Last weekend’s 5-0 loss meant we have gone six league games without scoring for the first time in our history, and yet another poor record was broken under Paul Lambert.

Whether or not you think the Scot is to blame for the team’s woes he has overseen some torrid times and it seems remarkable that Saturday’s game will be his 100th league fixture in charge of Aston Villa. Alex McLeish has the lowest win percentage of all Villa managers at 18% but Lambert isn’t far off with a worrying 25% win record.

It’s unlikely that things will change as Chelsea head to Villa Park. They beat us 3-0 in the reverse fixture when we were on a decent run of form – what on earth are they going to do this time around?

Apart from the odd blip (such as the defeat to Villa’s least favourite football league side, Bradford) Chelsea are flying and have lost just two of their last 15 league away matches. As you might guess, they enjoy playing Villa too – they’ve won five of the last six meetings with us. With newboy Juan Cuadrado joining the Chelsea ranks it’s unlikely they will be too bothered about their absentees.

Comparing such achievements to our home record (we’ve won just once during our last nine league games at Villa Park) and one can’t help but feel it will be a long afternoon for Lambert’s men.

What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide

What do we have in common with Leicester in 77-78 and Derby in 07-08? We have scored the joint-fewest goals of any team after 23 matches of an English first division season) along with those two sides.

If we are to avoid such comparisons, without stating the obvious, it would be nice to at least get a goal.

The focus in the media ahead of this match has been on the struggles of Christian Benteke, but perhaps this isn’t fair. Any good team should have other players willing to regularly chip in with the goals. Just look at Chelsea’s squad. Branislav Ivanovic has scored four goals in his last five league starts against Villa – and he’s a defender!

Baker’s fluffed chance against Liverpool summarised not only Villa’s shyness in front of goal but also how rare it is for our defenders and midfielders to score. Hopefully this changes against Mourinho’s men. Benteke could still take a while to get back to his best – it’s important the others help him out.

Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag

Heading into the League Cup final and top of the Premier League, it’s difficult to doubt Mourinho’s credentials as ‘The Special One’.

However, as is often mentioned in Villa circles, he’s never won at Villa Park. The Portuguese boss has drawn three and lost two during his visits to Birmingham and it does seem to prove the novel concept of bogey teams. Whether this is due to complacency or sheer misfortune from the London club, it’s certainly a good omen for Villa and we’re in desperate need of a bit of luck.

Who knows, perhaps the absences of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas will tip the tie in our favour?

There hasn’t been as much success under Lambert as fans hoped upon his appointment in 2012, and the board’s aspirations of a top 10 Aston Villa seem highly unlikely at this moment in time.

If Lambert could mark his 100th league match with a repeat of last season’s win over Chelsea, though, we’d be in good spirits heading into more ‘winnable’ games – and at least we’d be able to stop mentioning those dreaded stats.

UTV

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