Aston Villa vs Chelsea: Preview and Prediction

Chelsea will be desperate to return to winning ways when they take on Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The games continue to come thick and fast in the run-in of the 2023/24 Premier League season. Gameweek 35 kick-starts on Saturday with the match between West Ham United and Liverpool at the London Stadium, while the action on the day ends with the clash between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park.

Aston Villa fans would not have even dreamt of their club being a contender for a top-four finish this season when the 2023/24 campaign began. However, Unai Emery has transformed the West Midlands outfit’s fortunes, forging a cohesive unit that has gone toe to toe with the best teams in the Premier League. And with four games left, the Villans are six points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, with the North London club having two games in hand.

As for Chelsea, they have continued to be mired in mediocrity, although their fortunes have improved as the season has worn on. The Blues are in contention to qualify for the UEFA Europa League, although the 5-0 defeat to Arsenal earlier this week came as a setback.

They also bowed out of the FA Cup last weekend after a controversial game against Manchester City. However, amid raging debates surrounding Mauricio Pochettino and his long-term future at the West London club, the Argentine tactician and his team are showing some positive signs.

Aston Villa and Chelsea have locked horns thrice thus far this season, producing every possible result. The Villans won the reverse fixture 1-0, while Chelsea clinched a 3-1 victory in the FA Cup fourth-round replay after the original tie ended in a goalless stalemate. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

Aston Villa

Unai Emery has received a positive update on the team news front ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Chelsea on Saturday, the Aston Villa manager will be bereft of the services of six first-team players.

Douglas Luiz is back after serving a two-match suspension. As for the absentees, Alex Moreno (calf) is the only player likely to return before the season ends. So, Tyrone Mings (knee), Jacob Ramsey (toe), Boubacar Kamara (knee), Nicolo Zaniolo (knock), and Emiliano Buendia (knee) have likely played their final game of the campaign.

Emiliano Martinez will take his usual spot between the sticks, with Aston Villa lining up in a 4-4-1-1 formation in front of him against Chelsea. The backline should feature Ezri Konsa, Diego Carlos, Pau Torres, and Lucas Digne.

As for the midfield unit, Douglas Luiz should return to the starting eleven, pairing up with Youri Tielemans in the middle of the park. Leon Bailey, Morgan Rogers, and John McGinn should provide the forward thrust and bring the creative impetus in the final third. Ollie Watkins will lead the line for Aston Villa on Saturday.

Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Martinez; Konsa, Carlos, Torres, Digne; Bailey, Luiz, Tielemans, Rogers; McGinn; Watkins


Like his counterpart in the Aston Villa dugout, Mauricio Pochettino has greeted a positive update ahead of the trip to Villa Park. The Chelsea manager will be without nine first-team players on Saturday.

Cole Palmer (illness) and Ben Chilwell (knee) should be in the matchday squad to take on Aston Villa. Meanwhile, Robert Sanchez (illness), Levi Colwill (knee), Reece James (hamstring), Wesley Fofana (knee), Malo Gusto (knee), Romeo Lavia (hamstring), Lesley Ugochukwu (thigh), and Christopher Nkunku (hamstring) remain on the sidelines.

However, there is a fresh concern hampering Pochettino’s preparations, with Enzo Fernandez undergoing groin surgery. So, Conor Gallagher will pair up with Moises Caicedo in the double pivot in the middle of the park. The returning Cole Palmer will thus reprise the no. 10 role, with Noni Madueke and Raheem Sterling being the two wide attackers.

Nicolas Jackson will lead the line for Chelsea against Aston Villa. As for the defensive unit, Axel Disasi will start as the makeshift right-back, joining Trevoh Chalobah, Thiago Silva, and Marc Cucurella in the backline. Finally, there is no looking past Djordje Petrovic between the sticks.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Petrovic; Disasi, Chalobah, Silva, Cucurella; Caicedo, Gallagher; Madueke, Palmer, Sterling; Jackson

Key Stats

  • Aston Villa can complete their first league double over Chelsea since 1989/90 when the Blues were a newly-promoted side, and the Villans eventually finished in second place. Chelsea have lost their two league games against Aston Villa, as many as they had in their previous 16 (W13 D1). They have not lost more consecutively against the Villans since a run of four between 1978 and 1984.
  • Chelsea won 3-1 against Aston Villa at Villa Park in the FA Cup this season. The last team to beat the Villans twice on the road in the same campaign were Tottenham in 2013/14.
  • After losing his first Premier League meeting with Chelsea in just his second game in charge in the competition in August 2018, Aston Villa boss Unai Emery has won his last three against the Blues without conceding a goal.
  • Chelsea have won just one of their most recent eight Premier League games outside of London, with that victory coming at Luton Town in December.
  • Ollie Watkins has scored in his last two Premier League games against Chelsea, although both have come at Stamford Bridge. No Aston Villa player has scored in three successive matches against the Blues in the competition.

Player to Watch

Nicolas Jackson

Embed from Getty Images

While Ollie Watkins and the returning Cole Palmer are always options for this section, we have picked Nicolas Jackson due to the mounting pressure on him. The Senegalese international has failed to set the stage alight since arriving from Villarreal last summer.

With Chelsea planning to sign a world-class striker in the summer transfer window, Jackson is fighting for his place in the team. So, with half a dozen games left in the 2023/24 season for the West London club, the 22-year-old has to give it his all and ensure he ends the season on a high.


Aston Villa 2-1 Chelsea

Chelsea have won seven of their last nine Premier League away games against Aston Villa (L2), more than they had in their first 19 visits to Villa Park in the competition (W6 D7 L6). However, their fortunes have plummeted since this run began, with the Villans a more cohesive unit.

In addition, the Blues last won an away Premier League game outside London in December. So, despite the upturn in form, Chelsea might not have the quality or momentum to topple Aston Villa. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Unai Emery and his charges, with the Villans retaining their unbeaten record in Saturday night Premier League games.

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