ASTON VILLA F.C.
Stamford Bridge, London
Saturday, 17th October, 2015, 1400 GMT
Champions Chelsea take on Aston Villa in a bottom of the table clash at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. The Londoners have endured a torrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League campaign and are currently placed 16th in the table. Under fire Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was fined A?50,000 and given a one match suspended stadium ban for making derogatory comments about the referee after his side won 2-0 against Arsenal in September. On Thursday, Mourinho came out and labelled the decision to fine him as a “disgrace” . .
Mourinho’s counterpart Tim Sherwood is facing similar troubles as his side currently occupy 18th position in the league. After registering an opening day win against newly promoted Bournemouth, Villa have managed to muster a single point in the subsequent 7 matches played in the league this season. Sherwood is currently the bookies favorite to be the next manager in the Premier League to get the sack after Brendan Rodgers was relieved of his duties 2 weeks ago.
Both teams will be looking to register a much needed win in order to kickstart their campaign this season.
Team News and Tactics
Chelsea, who have already lost two matches at home this season to Crystal Palace and Southampton, will be looking to avoid their 5th defeat of the season when they take on Tim Sherwood’s struggling Aston Villa side on Saturday.
After the rigours of International break, Mourinho will be pleased that most of his players returned to London unscathed. Chelsea’s Bosnian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who had an outstanding match against Wales last week, will continue in goal for the Blues in the continued absence of Thibaut Courtois.
Serbian captain Branislav Ivanovic suffered a hamstring injury in Serbia’s win over Albania last week and will be out of action for a period of three weeks. Cesar Azpilicueta is expected to move into his more natural right-back position resulting in a possible debut for Baba Rahman. Rahman was signed in August from Augsburg for a fee of A?14m and is yet to dorn the blue jersey. Zouma and Cahill are expected to occupy the two centre-back berths with veteran skipper John Terry condemned to the bench yet again.
In midfield, Matic and Fabregas will continue to operate as the double pivot in midfield in front of the back four. Hazard, who scored 2 goals for Belgium on international duty, will continue to operate on the left flank while Oscar is expected to occupy the number 10 role behind the striker. Willian, who has been in great form club and country having scored 5 goals in 5 matches, is expected to keep Pedro out from the starting line up.
Diego Costa, who was not called up by Spanish national team coach Vicente Del Bosque for the last two rounds of matches, will start up front for Chelsea.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Cahill, Rahman; Matic, Fabregas; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Costa.
Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa travel to Stamford Bridge hoping to take advantage of the Chelsea’s worst start in the Premier League in decades.
Sherwood is expected to deploy 3 central defenders against the reigning champions. Club captain Micah Richards, Jose Angel Crespo and Joleon Lescott will operate as the 3 centre-backs in Sherwood’s 3-5-2 formation.
New signing Jordan Amavi and veteran full back Alan Hutton will play as the left and right wing backs respectively and will look to stretch the Chelsea full backs going forward.
The midfield trio of Gueye, Westwood and Veretout will operate interchangeably in front the back three. Scott Sinclair is expected to be positioned in the “hole” behind the lead striker Rudy Gestede, who has scored 3 goals this season thus far.
Probable Starting XI (3-5-2): Guzan; Richards, Crespo, Lescott; Gueye, Amavi, Westwood, Veretout, Hutton; Sinclair, Gestede.
- The reigning Premier League champions have won just two of their opening eight games and are languishing in 16th place in the table.
- The Blues are 10 points behind early pacesetters Manchester City.
- This can be a heated fixture, with seven red cards coming in the last 15 meetings between the two sides.
- Villa have not kept a PL clean sheet at Stamford Bridge since March 1998, conceding 30 times in their last eight at the West London venue.
- Only Sunderland (18) have conceded more Premier League goals than Chelsea (17) this term.
Player to watch out for:
Diego Costa (Chelsea)
Diego Costa, who has had a torrid time lately, will hope to silence his critics when he faces Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa side at Stamford Bridge. Costa was given a retrospective 3 match ban after clashing with Arsenal defenders Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny in his side’s controversial 2-0 win against the Gunners. To compound his misery, Costa was not called up by Spanish national team coach Vicente Del Bosque for Spain’s final two World Cup qualifiers against Luxembourg and Ukraine.
Having scored 20 goals in the league last season for Chelsea, Costa will want to put his recent troubles behind him and fire Chelsea to the top half of the Barclays Premier League table.
Chelsea 2 – 0 Aston Villa
Despite winning just two out of their opening eight matches in the league this season, Chelsea are expected to register a comfortable home win against a dismal Aston Villa side. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea troops will be wanting to make a statement against Villa by putting atleast a couple of goals past them.
Sherwood, who has made wholesale changes to his squad this season, is likely to park the bus and hit Chelsea on the counter. However, given their lack of Premier League experience up front, Villa will find it difficult to breach a patched up Chelsea backline.
Blast from the past: