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Villama Preview: Chelsea v Aston Villa

Coming off the high of a 3-0 Villa Park victory over Bournemouth, Unai Emery’s Villans travel to London to take on Chelsea. With Villa in good form, can they prevail at Stamford Bridge?

The build-up...

The Bournemouth victory was fantastic, but following an extra week to bathe in the light of that glory, it’s back to business and on to London and Chelsea.

The traditional “big six” side sits 10th in the table, one spot ahead of Aston Villa’s 11th. They’ve enjoyed positive results over the last three matches, besting Leeds United at Stamford Bridge 1-0, doing the same to Leicester City with a more emphatic 3-1 scoreline, and most recently drawing at home an Everton side desperately clawing themselves back from the dead.

Players to look out for are, but shouldn’t be limited to (it’s all of them, really), Enzo Fernandez in midfield and Kai Havertz at forward.

Last time we met at Stamford Bridge...

League Cup success is not something that is regularly associated with Aston Villa Football Club, but Dean Smith’s men’s pushed Chelsea to the limits during their third round tie on September 22nd, 2021, with the home side edging the Villans on penalties.

The line-up...

Villa’s line-up this week depends on if Boubacar Kamara is ready to come back from his recent injury spell. Presuming he’s back, the midfield includes his holding partner Douglas Luiz, with Jacob Ramsey to the left and John McGinn moving from the middle over to the right in a more offensive role. The defensive line consists of a Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konza duo with Alex Moreno at left-back and Ashley Young in for the injured Matty Cash at right-back. Up top is Ollie Watkins and Emi Buendia will be the number 10 to his 9. Emi Martinez will start in goal.

What happens if Kamara is not ready? Leander Dendoncker, back from injury and available for selection, and John McGinn would be in discussion to pick-up the slack. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with starting Dendoncker at Chelsea and McGinn played well in Kamara’s place, so the knee-jerk thought is to start McGinn despite it being a more natural position for Dendoncker. Leon Bailey presumably fills in on the right, and while I’m not wild about that either, I do prefer it to Dendoncker starting in the number six position.

Score prediction...

This is going to be a tough one for Villa to win, but I don’t see a repeat of the 2-0 Villa Park loss from earlier this season. If Kamara is back, and let’s be optimistic and say that he will be, I can see a 1-1 draw and a solid point to be taken back to Birmingham.

Aston Villa Training Session
Can Ollie Watkins continue his strong form and pull Aston Villa into the upper half of the Premier League table against Chelsea?
Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images