By Lewis Rymond
All of a sudden, Villa are worth mentioning in the eyes of the TV football pundits, and to be fair, they really have earned it. In this match, an unpredictable Chelsea face a currently consistent Aston Villa. Oh, and who could forget what happened around this time last year? [Cover your eyes Bradford and Swansea fans…] Could this also be a dress rehearsal for the League Cup Final in February?
Match Difficulty Grade
B Despite losing to Corinthians in the Club World Cup (while fielding a strong team) they did well to shake off any signs of jet-lag and thrash Leeds 5-1 in the Capital One Cup after being a goal down at half time. It will be a tough place for Villa to visit on a chilly Sunday afternoon. Having said that, Chelsea will be mindful of Villa’s recent form, a run that betters that of Benitez’s men.
Form is Temporary
Current Premier League form table (last six games) – Chelsea – 14th / Villa – 10th
Chelsea: Last five Premier League matches at home: W 1, D 3, L 1
Aston Villa: Last five Premier League matches away: W 2, D 1, L 2
In the last five visits to Stamford Bridge, Villa have won once, drawn twice and lost twice. Just as they had ahead of visiting Anfield – a good sign, perhaps?!
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
While McLeish enjoyed a claret and blue dream at Stamford Bridge last season, not so long ago Martin O’Neill suffered a nightmare. You know the one I mean. 7-1. Since then, it’s always been an unpredictable place to visit for Villa, with encounters usually seeing plenty of goals.
Chelsea have won 4 out of their last 6 games and Rafa will feel that he is on the right track with his side after a stuttering start as manager. (‘Rafa Out’ signs – remind you of anything?) If they can beat a feisty Leeds side 5-1 having travelled halfway around the world, they will be up for a home win to get the fans back on their side, with Raffa especially keen to win favour by achieving what his previous employers failed to do last week.
What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide
Back-to-back League wins. The last time, was an impressive double with wins against Arsenal & Liverpool in May 2011. If we beat Chelsea away after doing the same to Liverpool, it would be even more impressive. It may hinge on the Villa defence continuing their fine form. While Villa will be looking forward to the return of Vlaar, the defensive shift put in by Lambert’s Lions last weekend showed a fearless approach to games that continues to delight the claret and blue faithful. Even Mark Lawro enjoyed the commitment shown by the backline, and who could blame him? Nathan Baker’s tackle on Shelvey near the beginning of the game was magnificent. Let’s see more of this spirit on Sunday, and if we do, there’s no reason we can’t take something from the game and continue our unbeaten run.
Why Villa are Totally 100% Going to Win
Villa are unbeaten in five games and Chelsea haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since October! Plus, Villa normally seem to do well against Chelsea . Despite the formidable nature of any recent Chelsea side, Villa have fond memories of Stamford from the past two seasons and beyond. A fabled victory last year to enjoy over the New Year and the season before that a thrilling 3-3 draw (and a Boxing Day 4-4 in 2007).
Villa’s recent problems in front of goal seem to be over with Villa scoring seven in the last two games. Chelsea have had distractions in the last week – the Club World Cup in Japan, League Cup in Leeds – which will give Villa an advantage in terms of being the freshest of the two teams. One thing’s for certain, whatever the outcome of this result, Villa will give it a good go. Oh, and we won’t be last on Match of the Day. UTV.
Last week against Liverpool, we gave you a tip – Villa win and Benteke to score anytime combo…who listened? You could have been rich now, as specially if you ulitlised MOMS deal with Paddy Power where if you spend £10 on bets after opening an account, you’ll get a free £20 bet – click here to take advantage. Why not put your tenner on a Chelsea win and the free £20 bet on a draw and a Benteke anytime goal?