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Preview: Aston Villa vs. Chelsea - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Saturday's Premier League fixture between Aston Villa and Chelsea.

Chelsea make the trip to the West Midlands to face Aston Villa on Saturday evening looking to strengthen their grip of fourth position in the Premier League table.

Meanwhile, Villa begin the weekend sitting in 19th position having suffered four successive defeats in the top flight.

Match preview

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard applauds on January 11, 2020© Reuters

After being outclassed by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, it appeared unlikely that Chelsea would come through a trip to Bournemouth and back-to-back home fixtures with Liverpool and Everton having remained unbeaten.

However, that is what has materialised, a run which has also included successive shutouts against the Merseyside outfits in the FA Cup and Premier League respectively.

Throughout the campaign, Frank Lampard has reiterated his frustration over the Blues failing to deliver complete performances, with numerous instances of mistakes in defence and attack-minded players not taking chances in the final third.

The upturn in results has been a consequence of Chelsea being more decisive in both areas, especially at the back where clean sheets have been in short supply.

The improvements have coincided with Billy Gilmour's introduction into the starting lineup as the academy graduate makes up for his short stature with performances which have helped bring a calmness to his elder teammates.

Billy Gilmour in action for Chelsea on March 8, 2020© Reuters

The 18-year-old has brought simplicity and more discipline to Chelsea's play, which has allowed the likes of Ross Barkley and Mason Mount to flourish in their preferred positions in the centre of the pitch.

Whether that will continue when the likes of Jorginho, N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic return to the fold remains to be seen, but there can be no doubt that Gilmour has now earned his place in the team on merit.

The same can be said of Olivier Giroud, who has now made five starts in succession due to Tammy Abraham's injury and Michy Batshuayi failing to take his chance against Manchester United last month.

Although the Frenchman only has two goals to his name during that period, his presence at either end of the pitch is a big reason why Chelsea appear to be on an upward trajectory.

Ahead of the meeting with his former club, there has been talk of Villa assistant John Terry replacing Dean Smith in the managerial hotseat after a run of five successive defeats in all competitions.

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith on March 1, 2020© Reuters

While Villa impressed during the EFL Cup final against Manchester City, Monday's 4-0 setback at the hands of Leicester City has seemingly led to the club's hierarchy considering their options.

Despite the level of their opponents, it has been claimed that Smith must record a positive result in order to keep his job as Villa sit two points adrift of safety.

The Villans have a game in hand against Sheffield United which will be played later in the campaign, but Smith knows that his players need to show signs of improvement.

As many as 13 goals have been conceded in their last five outings, including at least two in every match, while just four goals have been netted during the same period.

While Mbwana Samatta has netted twice as he continues to impress since his January arrival, Jack Grealish has added just one assist during a time when he is being linked with a big-money move to Manchester United.

At a time when both himself and Villa require a performance from the playmaker, Smith will hope that it comes sooner rather than later in order to retain hope of avoiding relegation to the Championship.

Aston Villa Premier League form: DWLLLL
Aston Villa form (all competitions): WLLLLL

Chelsea Premier League form: DDLWDW
Chelsea form (all competitions): LWLDWW

Team News

Ross Barkley warms up for Chelsea on August 13, 2019© Reuters

Barring any late fitness issues, Lampard is expected to name the same starting lineup for Saturday's match.

Jorginho serves the second of his two-match suspension, while Abraham will only be on the substitutes' bench should he recover from a hamstring injury.

Kante is also closing in on a return to the squad, but Kovacic, Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi are not expected to be involved.

Smith must decide whether Villa midfielder John McGinn is fit enough to take a place among the replacements after time on the sidelines with a broken ankle.

Ezri Konsa could be preferred to Bjorn Engels in the middle of the backline, while Anwar El Ghazi may be recalled on the right flank.

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Reina; Guilbert, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Nakamba, Luiz; El Ghazi, Hourihane, Grealish; Samatta

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger, Alonso; Barkley, Gilmour, Mount; Willian, Giroud, Pedro

Head To Head

Saturday's game will represent the 154th competitive match between the two sides, with Chelsea recording 62 wins in comparison to 57 victories for Villa.

The reverse fixture earlier this season, which ended 2-1 to Chelsea, marked the first head-to-head between the sides since April 2016.

Nevertheless, the Blues have prevailed in nine of the last 11 games during a period which stretches back to December 2011.

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We say: Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea

Despite their respective form, this is a difficult one to call with Villa motivated to produce a response to their recent negative results. However, we feel that Chelsea's extra quality will eventually shine through during a closely-fought encounter.


Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Aston Villa and Chelsea?

Aston Villa
Aston Villa
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Billy Gilmour in action for Chelsea on March 8, 2020
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rhs 2.0
2Manchester CityMan City382639102356781
3Manchester UnitedMan Utd381812866363066
5Leicester CityLeicester381881267412662
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs3816111161471459
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves381514951401159
9Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd381412123939054
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle381111163858-2044
14Crystal Palace381110173150-1943
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton38914153954-1541
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham38109194962-1339
17Aston Villa3898214167-2635
RNorwich CityNorwich3856272675-4921

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