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Villama Preview: Aston Villa v Chelsea

Weird vibes abound as Graham Potter brings Chelsea to Villa Park. Will Steven Gerrard have things turned around in time or will the cabbage let fly?

With two points left at the City Ground in a dull 1-1 draw to Nottingham Forest, it seems obvious that things aren’t improving in a continuous fashion. Nonetheless, it’s still a much needed point and now it’s on to a much stiffer test in Chelsea. The London side are currently sitting fourth in the table and last lost a league match in August. Top players to look for from the Blues include Mason Mount in central midfield, Thiago Silva at center-back, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at striker. Over the last three matches, Chelsea has beaten West Ham United 2-1 at home, won 2-1 at Crystal Palace, and bested Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 at Stamford Bridge.

There are a handful of things that could be done to tinker with the squad this week, but three areas stand out: striker, left wing/attacking midfield and holding midfielder. The lineup (narrow 4-3-3) I can see Gerrard rolling out would feature Emi Martinez in goal, with Ashley Young at left-back, a Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konza center-back partnership, and Matty Cash at right-back. In midfield, a newly contracted Douglas Luiz should feature in the number six position. Arguments could be made for Leander Dendoncker, but Gerrard has been nothing if not consistent in his midfield trio. Jacob Ramsey and John McGinn will round out the group. Further up is where things get a little more interesting. With Philippe Coutinho looking rusty as of late, there’s a good chance we see Leon Bailey, Ollie Watkins, or even Jacob Ramsey playing on the left. Emi Buendia could be in contention as well, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it, but some combination of Buendia and Bailey flanking the striker would be nice to see. At striker is where we could see a big change, but I’m not sure if Gerrard is up for it. I’d opt for Cameron Archer, but I think Gerrard sticks with Ollie Watkins.

That’s what I think Gerrard goes with, but what would I do? This qualifies as a “my job is on the line” game, so I’m going with a “YOLO” lineup. Nothing over the top or too ridiculous, but we’re definitely playing with fire on the depth/injury front. The defensive line and goal remain the same, but in the midfield I’ll start Dendoncker as tbe holding midfielder, with Douglas Luiz to his left and John McGinn to his right. You could also go 4-2-3-1, with McGinn playing as the number 10. Starting at striker, I’m taking a risk and starting Cameron Archer, with Jacob Ramsey to his left and Emi Buendia to his right. I’m tempted to swap Ramsey with Leon Bailey, but Ramsey’s playing too well to sit.

: Chelsea are flying high and doing so with the manager that got away from Villa. It would be a little weird for him to be the guy to dispatch the man that did get the job, but that’s where we are. A 3-1 loss to Chelsea looks to be on the cards.

Aston Villa Training and Press Conference
Is time running out for Steven Gerrard to turn things around at Aston Villa?
Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images