Aston Villa are the visitors to Stamford Bridge this weekend as Chelsea look to hang on to top spot in the Premier League table. The Blues are still unbeaten, and they’ll be looking to keep that up against Paul Lambert’s side.
Chelsea got back to winning ways after their draw with Manchester City by beating Bolton 2-1 in the League Cup in midweek. That game saw a host of first team players rested, and they’re likely to return to the side this weekend.
Petr Cech played in goal against Bolton, but he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory. He looked a little rusty for their goal, which was to be expected after a long spell on the side lines. Thibaut Courtois is likely to regain the gloves for Saturday’s game. The Belgian has barely put a foot wrong since the start of the season, so there’s no reason to drop him to the bench.
Youngster Kurt Zouma made an impression on his debut against Bolton, scoring from a corner to give the Blues the lead. Despite that, he’s likely to make way for John Terry as Mourinho reverts to his usual back four. The only change from that could be that Filipe Luis keeps his place at left back, and Cesar Azpilicueta or Branislav Ivanovic play at right back. Luis looked solid against Bolton, and he’s bound to get more first team opportunities soon.
Chelsea are likely to line up in the 4-2-3-1 formation that faced Bolton, instead of the 4-3-3 used against Schalke and Man City. Fabregas and Matic should return to the side at the expense of John Obi Mikel and Nathan Ake. Oscar looked bright against Bolton, which may mean he keeps his place in the number 10 role for the Villa game. After a tough couple of months, it would be great to see Oscar back to his best.
Andre Schurrle’s poor defensive tracking cost a goal for the second week in a row against City, and he may find himself on the bench again, despite scoring at the Etihad. Its likely Willian and Eden Hazard will start on the wings. Another option is to have Ramires wide on the right, but it’s likely Mourinho will pick a more attacking side here. Mo Salah got his first start of the season against Bolton, but he did little to impress.
Up front Mourinho has a decision to make. Diego Costa can’t play three games in a week, so does he play against Villa or is he saved for the clash with Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday? Costa will probably get the nod in the league game, with Remy then coming in for him in midweek. After seeing how easily Arsenal took Villa apart last weekend, Costa should be relishing the chance to take on this defence, and add to the seven league goals he has already bagged this season.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 3-1