After a point against Sheffield United last time out, Aston Villa's bid for Premier League survival continues against Champions League chasing Chelsea.
Villa Park, Aston, England
Key Stat: Chelsea have won their last five matches against Aston Villa and claimed nine wins in their last ten meetings in total.
Expert Verdict: Villa claimed an important point on their return to action, but Chelsea are favourites for this one. Frank Lampard’s side should have benefited from the break and will be eager to hit the ground running on their return. They need points to secure Champions League football next season.
Tom Heaton and Wesley remain sidelined and Bjorn Engels is out for the next couple of weeks with an Achilles injury. Danny Drinkwater is also injured, but would not have been eligible against his former club anyway.
Jack Grealish – Aston Villa’s stand-out player by far before the enforced break, having scored nine goals this season and set up a further eight too.
Anwar El Ghazi – Supplying goals in Wesley’s absence, while the winger has also set up seven goals this season too.
Conor Hourihane – Struggled for regular appearances, which as been a surprise given Villa usually do better with the Irishman in their midfield.
After five consecutive defeats before the season was paused, Aston Villa will have been pleased to get back to action with a point in mid-week – albeit one in which the failure of goal-line technology saved them.
Defenders:Ahmed El Mohamady, Kortney Hause, Tyrone Mings, Matt Targett
Defensive Midfielders:Douglas Luiz
Attacking Midfielders:Anwar El Ghazi, Conor Hourihane, John McGinn, Jack Grealish
Jorginho will miss the game due to suspension and there are other injuries to contend with – Andreas Christensen, Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi all face late fitness tests. Tammy Abraham could return, however. Billy Gilmour’s form in the last two games before lockdown may be rewarded with another start, meanwhile, although N’Golo Kante is likely to come into the midfield too.
Tammy Abraham – A success on loan with Villa last season, the striker is set to return up front as he looks to add to 13 goals in 25 appearances this season.
Mason Mount – Also scored when these teams last met and the enforced break will have refreshed the 21-year-old in time for a good run at the end of the season.
Willian – Goals in each of the two games before lockdown could earn the Brazilian another start in this game. He has five league goals this season.
Chelsea won each of the two games they played in March, beating Liverpool 2-0 in the FA Cup and then putting four past Everton in the league. Willian and Ross Barkley scored in the cup win, while Mason Mount, Pedro, Willian and Olivier Giroud netted in the win at home to Everton.
Defenders:Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma, Marcos Alonso
Midfielders:N Golo Kante, Billy Gilmour, Mason Mount
Forwards:Willian, Tammy Abraham, Pedro
Chelsea have won their last five consecutive matches against Aston Villa and nine of the last ten. THis season’s meeting – their first since Aston Villa’s relegation in 2016 – saw Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount net for the Blues in a 2-1 win. Trezeguet had earlier equalised for Villa.
Aston Villa were in dismal form before the season halted and they need to take advantage of their reprieve.
A fortunate point against Sheffield United in a low-key return to action was a start, although they will have their work cut out against Chelsea.
The young Chelsea team may be one that benefits most from the break – a youthful side has had a heavy workload this season, but the time off will have refreshed them well.
Players like Tammy Abraham are fit again, N’Golo Kante can come into the midfield and there is so much competition for places thanks to their young stars.
Abraham was so good for Villa last season in their promotion campaign and has finally delivered on his potential in the Premier League now too.
He will be a key player going forward and a good run at the end of the season – likewise with players like Mason Mount – will be so important.
If Chelsea hit the ground running on their restart, they can start with a good win at Villa Park and then really kick on from there in their bid for Champions League football.
Chelsea are favourites to beat Aston Villa. They can be backed at 8/15 to win with Betfair and Betway.
Over 2.5 goals will return 4/7 with 888sport, Bet365, Ladbrokes, and Paddy Power. Chelsea scored four in their last game before lockdown and Villa conceded four.
Villa have lacked goals too, and you can bet against both teams to score at a best price of 6/5 with 888Sport, Paddy Power and Betfair.
Tammy Abraham leads Chelsea’s goalscoring charts and the striker is 10/11 with 888sport and Bet365 to score at any time on his return to Villa Park.
Chelsea signed off in good form and with their young squad refreshed by the break, they can hit the ground running on their return too.