The State of Play
It has been a very impressive campaign thus far for Aston Villa but they had appeared to hit a bit of a wall in the last month or so. They required a late winner against struggling Burnley just before New Year and that, as well as a defeat of second-tier Middlesbrough, was one of just two wins in a run of seven matches across all competitions until they thrashed Sheffield United by five goals to nil at Bramall Lane on Saturday afternoon.
They face a Chelsea side that, almost the exact opposite to Villa, have struggled throughout the campaign before showing a sign they may have turned things round but that also appears to have simply been an anomalous run of form. They have conceded eight goals in their last two matches in the Premier League after sharing a goalless draw with Villa in this tie at the end of January.
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Despite their impressive win at the weekend, the following days have been a bit of a dampener for Aston Villa with news on Tuesday confirming Ezri Konsa will miss the next three or four weeks with a knee injury. On a more positive note, Douglas Luiz is expected to be fine but could still be rested after picking up a knock of his own.
Chelsea have no fresh injury concerns and, even after a defeat on Sunday, Mauricio Pochettino will be keen on finding some rhythm with his preferred front four, which saw the introduction of Christopher Nkunku, so an unchanged eleven would appear likely for this one.
Aston Villa: Martinez; Cash, Carlos, Lenglet, Alex Moreno; Bailey, Kamara, Tielemans, McGinn; Watkins, Diaby
Chelsea: Petrovic; Gusto, Disasi, Silva, Chilwell; Caicedo, Fernandez; Palmer, Gallagher, Sterling; Nkunku
What they Said
Unai Emery has expressed his desire for Villa to go deep in every competition they play: “We are motivated and excited when we are playing here for everything – Carabao Cup, FA Cup, Europe and the Premier League.”
With pressure and speculation growing with regards to his future, Mauricio Pochettino said he received a ‘good text’ from the ownership on Sunday to suggest is not yet in danger of being sacked.
When and How to Watch
This match will take place at Stamford Bridge on 20:00 on Wednesday February 7th and will be shown live on ITV in the UK. It can also be streamed on the ITV X app.
It would appear a bit harsh and obvious to suggest that Aston Villa are better than Chelsea but they just appear to be so. Forget the two-time European champions version of Chelsea and 2017 Premier League winners, serial trophy gatherers of the Roman Abramovich era. This is a mis-match of a squad with some excellent but unproven young players against a very well coached, well drilled Villa side challenging on three fronts this season. A home win seems most likely.