CHELSEA VS ASTON VILLA MATCH PREVIEW
Villa’s defensive resilience was mercilessly questioned during a sickening (ahem) few minutes against Arsenal. While facing Chelsea might evoke memories of the thrashing in 2012, Villa have the chance to prove last weekend was a blip, following recovery from the virus that plagued Bodymoor Heath. A performance like Villa’s last visit to Stamford Bridge but with better referring would be a good start.
Lambert on Chelsea
“We’ll go there with nothing to lose. Nobody expects anything from us going there but if we get chances hopefully we can take them.
“I think they’ll be round about it in the Champions League again, I think they’ll go far in it. And I think they’ll go far in winning this Barclays Premier League.
“They’re a good side with good players and they are strong and powerful. You can pick three or four teams with the players they have.”
Mourinho on Villa
“They are a difficult opponent and it will be a difficult match because of the qualities they have as a team.
“They are second (note: he means third!), they have 10 points and that’s the important thing. It’s a game between the leader and second position. It shows the difficulty of the game. We have to improve in every aspect.”
(Interestingly Mourinho refused to comment on his relationship with Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert, or wouldn’t discuss Roy Keane’s impact as Villa assistant boss. Probably Jose was simply playing a straight bat to the press)
Mourinho on the man in 60%+ of all Fantasy teams – Diego Costa
“He plays tomorrow and he starts the game without problems. The question is always the same: can he finish the game and be in conditions to play in Lisbon 48 hours later? It’s a question that in this moment I don’t know.”
21st August 2013 Chelsea 2 Aston Villa 1
After an 8-0 loss the season before there were concerns about how the game would go. Thankfully though, it was a good performance from Villa (despite the result), including a solid performance from Jores Okore who was substituted on during the first half.
Chelsea – Last five matches at home: W 3, D 1, L 1
Villa – Last five matches away: W 2, L 3
Villa have only won once in the last five visits to Stamford Bridge.
One to Watch
Diego Costa – The Brazilian-turned-Spaniard has adapted well to the Premier League and has already scored seven goals this season. In fact, he’s had more shots on target than Villa have had as a team…
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
While the loss to Arsenal probably shouldn’t distract from the impressive start to the season, there is a risk that confidence will have taken a knock. Making such defensive errors this Saturday against the league leaders will result in a weekend to forget.
Chelsea have certainly enjoyed recent encounters against Villa at home, scoring 21 in the last five Stamford Bridge meetings, and new signings have helped build on the side that could have won the league last season.
It will be a real test for Villa despite defensive improvements. Lambert’s men will face a Chelsea side who have attempted four times as many shots on target as Villa (32, the highest amount in the league, compared to 8).
What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide
Given Mourinho’s impressive home record it sometimes seems like a match against Chelsea away seems to be a foregone conclusion. Despite this, there have been signs of promise in recent matches that suggest Villa are tougher this time around. During the Arsenal game the march was unfortunately all but over after a four-minute capitulation – against Chelsea it will be important to stay in the game and show the defensive character that defined away trips to Stoke and Liverpool.
Why Villa have got this game in the bag
When Villa last played at Stamford Bridge there was the sense that we were unlucky with referee decisions, and it certainly seemed bizarre that Ivanovic had escaped a red card having elbowed Christian Benteke. Perhaps more importantly it showed that Villa had evolved from the team that lost 8-0 there the season before. This season there have been further changes, particularly to the defensive ranks. The likes of Senderos (who will be facing former Arsenal teammate Cesc Fabregas) have played their part in ensuring Villa are yet to concede on the road.
Chelsea on the other hand have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five games in all competitions. Approaching the game third in the table relieves the pressure on Villa a bit, and with all expectations on Mourinho’s men there’s no reason why Lambert’s men can’t spring a surprise.
Follow Lewis on Twitter – @rymondfootball