You've heard the backstory. Now read the chat between Graham (We Ain't Got No History) and myself about this weekend's Aston Villa-Chelsea matchup. Who will start? Do Chelsea have any weaknesses? And what on earth have they done with Frank Lampard? I ask these questions of Graham, and miraculously we manage not to throw in any insults.
Kirsten: Regarding Chelsea, first and most important question first: What have you done with Frank Lampard?
GRAHAM: He's being held safe and sound away from that meanie Fabio Capello
Kirsten: But he'll be kept away from Aston Villa...so that I'm not able to get to him?
GRAHAM: It's safer that way
Kirsten: I see. So who else have Chelsea locked away under the premise of "injury"?
GRAHAM: Let me see... Yossi Benayoun is out until April, at least. Having a torn Achilles tendon will do that. Alex and Salomon Kalou are both definitely out as well. John Terry, Jeffry Bruma, and Jose Bosingwa are all doubts. Our defence will look pretty weird.
Kirsten: Who's left to put in?
GRAHAM: Well, Ashley Cole will start, and Branislav Ivanovic too, but the current rumour going around is that Paulo Ferreira will play at centreback and Jose Bosingwa will make his season debut on the right. Please don't break him this time.
Kirsten: You just said Bosingwa was a doubt? If he's not on the right, who is?
GRAHAM: Ferreira. Or perhaps Michael Essien. It's a fun guessing game
GRAHAM: Manchester City did a very good job sitting deep and playing off the counterattack. Dropping three midfielders right in front of the defence will do that. Against Arsenal it's arguable that both teams should have scored significantly more than they actually did.
I don't think there's a problem with the Chelsea attack unless you count Didier Drogba occasionally going into a sulk
Kirsten: I thought that was reserved for Nicholas Anelka?
GRAHAM: Both of them sulk. Drogba's just more emphatic
Kirsten: So Chelsea's weak point--their Achilles heel, if you will--will be their defense
GRAHAM: I'd say so. I'm not comfortable with the idea of Heskey being matched up in the air against Ferreira. And Young will cause problems - hopefully Mikel can keep him in his pocket all game. I definitely wouldn't be surprised if Villa score
Kirsten: Ok, so tell me about what Villa should fear most
GRAHAM: The easy answer is being overrun in midfield. Mikel, Essien, and whoever else we put there (I'm guessing Zhirkov) will outnumber the Reo-Coker/Petrov tandem. And they're also all significantly better players.
Villa's ability to absorb Chelsea possession and counter is somewhat in doubt if Agbonlahor isn't available, and should Chelsea secure the midfield getting the ball to the forwards in dangerous positions gets much easier
Kirsten: You've mentioned every Chelsea player except my current favorite. Villa will be able to contain Florent Malouda, right? I mean, it's been like two games since he's scored
GRAHAM: It actually depends on how well Marc Albrighton is doing down the right for Villa. If he can keep Ashley Cole busy, Malouda's far less of a threat to drift infield and away from Luke Young. If he can't, and if Yuri Zhirkov is playing, that entire side is very very dangerous - and I don't think Young and Collins can stop Cole, Zhirkov, and Malouda if they decide to go marauding down that side.
Kirsten: Alright, what are your thoughts on Saturday's lineup? Prediction on the score?
GRAHAM: Lineup: Cech-Cole/Ivanovic/Ferreira/Bosingwa-Mikel/Zhirkov/Essien-Malouda/Drogba/Anelka
2-1 Chelsea. Sorry!