Aston Villa are Chelsea’s next opponents and with Arsenal and Liverpool not in action till the following day – and facing tough trips to Man United and Spurs respectively – the Blues have a chance to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to an impressive 10 points.
At the start of the season the teams met at Stamford Bridge and the home side narrowly won 2-1. That was a close game and the Villains could easily have nicked a draw but Mourinho’s men have improved since then and, despite this one being away from home, they will fancy they can get the win that would give them that double-digit lead with only eight games (for them) left to play.
On that day back in August it was a Branislav Ivanovic header that won the game after Christian Benteke had made the scores level following an early own goal. It was a controversial game and the visitors left west London feeling aggrieved about a number of refereeing decisions and they are sure to be looking for revenge here.
Benteke was injured shortly after that game and struggled to find form when he returned to first team action but two goals in his last game could prove to be a turning point. On his day the muscular Belgian is unplayable, his combination of pace, power and finishing making him unstoppable, but his days of greatness this season have been far too few. Moreover, Chelsea will feel that their experienced and talented defensive unit can handle him, especially as Villa’s other threats are relatively limited.
Paul Lambert’s men, who are 11th with 31 points, have scored four goals in two of their last three home games but even that still leaves them with just the 14th most potent home attack in the top flight. Allied to the 18th best defence on home soil this has produced an unimpressive set of results at Villa Park and given Chelsea have won the last four league games between the teams by an aggregate of 16-4 they will be confident of taking the three points.
The Pensioners, like their hosts, have no new injury concerns but David Luiz and Fernando Torres remain doubts. Chelsea have an important game at home against Galatasaray just three days after this so The Special One may look to use his squad but overall we feel the Blues will just have too much ability, determination and, after 11 wins and three draws in the last 14 league games, too much confidence for the home team.
Chelsea have the best away defensive record in the top flight and if they can keep Benteke quiet they can keep yet another clean sheet and get the win, with 2-0 our prediction.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0