Aston Villa vs. Chelsea, Match Preview: A Lot Has Changed Since The Season's High Point

This is still the best thing that's happened all season. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

So hey guys, remember when we beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge? 3-1 I believe it was. Defended beautifully, counter-attacked ruthlessly, carried that victory into the game against a newly promoted side just two days later, smooth sailing from there?

Oh, yeah. Nope. Villa did grab a somewhat unexpected win at the Bridge, but there was no parlaying to be had; just 48 hours shy of that famous victory, Villa meekly laid down for Swansea City and the bedsheets and boo-birds came out in force, any momentum gained from the three points picked up in London out the window before they had any chance to take hold. And then a whole bunch of other stuff happened, and Villa found themselves marginally safe with nine games remaining while Chelsea are still fighting for the final Champions League spot with one more game left on the slate.

There was also the part where Chelsea's manager was fired and Villa's two best players were lost for the season through injury.

So, it's not an especially encouraging outlook for the boys in claret and blue. Roberto di Matteo hasn't exactly re0invented Chelsea, but it's undeniable that things have been trending in a general upwards direction since the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas. For Villa, it's more of a mixed bag; since losing Richard Dunne and Darren Bent, Villa have four points from nine with the loss coming to Arsenal in particularly embarrassing fashion, and nothing about any of those results has been particularly encouraging. But ultimately, Villa have likely done enough to save themselves ffrom the drop.

And so, we're stuck with another one of these games, where Villa marginally need to do enough to make some kind of visible attempt to avoid defeat, but in reality the result doesn't much matter. So, that probably means a boring game that Villa loses terribly. I wish I could be more optimistic. But, well, you know.

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