Fabian Delph's stunning backheel effort that went across the face goal and beat Petr Cech to the far post was a very memorable moment last season for both Aston Villa and Chelsea. It was a crucial game for both teams, a key three points that went a long way towards helping Villa survive, and three points Chelsea could have used as they fell just short of the title. Similar to all matches Villa played against the top teams, they sat back and waited for opportunities on the counter. And just like the Manchester City and Arsenal fixtures, Villa would get their chances and convert them into three points.
Christian Benteke is coming back soon, but not soon enough for this one. His clinical finishing will most definitely be missed, as will his physicality. Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor have both been effective in his stead this season, but the rest of the team as well are responsible for making up for the Belgian's goal threat.
The main problem for Villa is that Chelsea have a terrific attack. New boys Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas didn't take long to adjust (or readjust) to the Premier League and have been in fine form so far. Even though the Villa backline had a stellar record up to the Arsenal match, it seemed like an illusion. How could this team's defence, much less without Vlaar, be effective in stopping a team like Liverpool? They are due to let in some goals, even after last weeks' match. This Saturday could be the day.
Obviously going out lined up in a formation with six defenders would be seen as negative, but Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has the options to go with a double fullback system on either, or both, sides. I don't think we will see it anyways. Packing the midfield may be a better option. Villa won't have much possession, but stealing the ball back high up the pitch leads to more effective counterattacks.
Once again I am hoping that Ron Vlaar and Jores Okore are healthy, but they may not start. Here is the rest of the projected lineup (both 4-2-3-1):
Who would you start to try to slow down Chelsea? Let us know in the comments!