Chelsea will be looking to maintain their five point lead at the top of the table when they travel to Villa Park on Saturday. They’re coming up against an Aston Villa side who have been struggling for goals, and who were hammered 5-0 at Arsenal last weekend, which can’t have been great for morale.
Villa come in to this game just above the drop zone, but they can’t be taken for granted. Last season the Blues came to Villa Park expecting a result, but they ended up suffering a defeat which was a huge blow to their title hopes. Fabian Delph scored the only goal that day, and Villa are desperate for a similar result here. They’ve not scored a league goal since December, and by the time Saturday rolls around their wait for a win will have stretched to two months. In this day and age it’s a wonder Paul Lambert hasn’t been shown the door.
Of course, Chelsea have problems of their own at the minute. They’re currently without top scorer Diego Costa, who is still banned from the Emre Can incident. He will be a big miss for the Blues, but his spot up front should be filled by Loic Remy. The Frenchman scored against Manchester City on Saturday, and he has been impressive in the limited time he’s had on the pitch. Now he has his first run in the first team, he’s going to be eager to impress.
The Blues also have a few injury worries, with Cesc Fabregas, Willian, John Obi Mikel and Filipe Luis all doubts for the game on Saturday. They are in a race to get fit, and without them, particularly Fabregas, Chelsea will be a lot weaker. One man who may play is Juan Cuadrado. The Colombian was a £26 million deadline day signing for the Blues, and he looks set to make his debut at Villa Park.
Hopefully Cuadrado can have the same kind of impact as the other big signings this season, as we’ve seen how Costa and Fabregas have given something different to the team, and hopefully the former Fiorentina man can do the same. He certainly looks to be a different kind of winger to Willian, Eden Hazard and Andre Schurrle, the man he replaced. If Willian isn’t ready in time to face Villa, at least there’s a good option to come in and replace him.
Last season this was the type of game that cost Chelsea, with plenty of missed chances and then a sloppy error allowing Villa in to score. The Blues fell apart that day, and had two players sent off. Without Costa and Fabregas the team isn’t too different from last year, so this is going to be a real test. Hopefully Remy will put a good run of form together after his goal last weekend and given the Villain’s record in front of goal of late, they shouldn’t pose too much of a threat to the leaders backline, so overall a solid victory for the Blues looks on the cards.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0