Chelsea return to Premier League action early on Saturday, as they take on Aston Villa at Villa Park. The Blues will be hoping to consolidate a place in the top half of the table with a victory against the league’s bottom side. Given Villa’s awful displays so far this term, surely Guus Hiddink’s men can take all three points back from this trip to the West Midlands?
The only thing Chelsea have to play for here is a chance to creep further up the league table. They currently sit in 10th spot, and there’s little chance of them making the top six or seven. European qualification therefore seems to be out of the question, and it’s not likely that the higher ups at the club even want a place in the Europa League.
You’d hope that without any goals or pressure from up high, Hiddink lets a few fringe players or youngsters into the team. What could the club learn from playing the first team in the remaining games? The side who won the title last season are experienced, possibly even too experienced, so give someone else a chance to impress.
Diego Costa is suspended again, so hopefully we get chance to glimpse a little more of Bertrand Traore up front. Although, there is a chance that we finally get to see Alexandre Pato take the field in a Chelsea shirt. Falcao is missing again up front, but it’s hard to imagine that he would have got near the squad anyway.
Long term absentee Kurt Zouma is out still, while there’s no sign of a return for Eden Hazard. His injuries this term haven’t seemed too severe, but he has missed a lot of minutes. It seems like he’s either not in any rush to make it back into the team, or he’s becoming worryingly injury prone.
Aston Villa have had an awful campaign so far, so for Hiddink to pick a weakened side here would be justifiable. The likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Kenedy should be able to impress against Remi Garde’s men, a side who have lost six straight games. They sit on the verge of relegation, and they look to be just weeks away from having their fate confirmed.
Given Villa’s form, there really isn’t any excuse for Chelsea not winning here. Even if Hiddink plays a rotated side in this clash, they should be more than good enough to take the points. Of course, this is the ground where the Dutchman first took charge of Chelsea, so he’ll be hopeful of returning here and claiming a victory.
This is a game that even staunch fans will have trouble getting excited about, so it’s hard to see why it’s being broadcast on TV. The fact that it is an early game makes it even harder for the away fans to make the trip, and makes it that much more unappealing. We should get to see a few goals here at least, as it’s hard to have any faith in either of these two defences.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1