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Preview: Chelsea vs. Aston Villa - prediction, team news, lineups
11/09/2021 11:46:27

Chelsea will be looking to return to winning ways in the Premier League when they welcome Aston Villa to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.


The Blues have collected seven points from their first three matches of the 2021-22 campaign to occupy fourth spot in the table, while Villa are in 11th with four points to show for their troubles thus far.


Match preview


Chelsea's start to the new season has been impressive, recording back-to-back wins over Crystal Palace and Arsenal in their opening two league fixtures before drawing 1-1 with Liverpool before the international break.


The Blues actually took the lead at Anfield through Kai Havertz and looked in good shape before Reece James was sent off just before the interval; the incident saw Liverpool awarded a penalty, which Mohamed Salah scored, but Thomas Tuchel's side managed to leave Merseyside with a welcome point.


Chelsea are entering a fascinating period of their season, as they will take on Zenit St Petersburg in their Champions League group-stage opener on September 14 before travelling to Tottenham Hotspur, who currently sit at the top of the Premier League, next weekend.


The capital outfit will then face Villa in the EFL Cup ahead of a home league game against Manchester City before ending September with a trip to Juventus in the Champions League; Tuchel has put together an impressive squad, and he will need to use it during a busy few weeks.


Chelsea only actually took a point from their two league games against Villa last weekend, playing out a 1-1 draw with Dean Smith's side at Stamford Bridge in December before losing 2-1 at Villa Park on the final weekend of last season, but they still made the top four in the table despite the defeat.


Villa, meanwhile, opened their 2021-22 Premier League season with a disappointing defeat at newly-promoted Watford, but they managed to put an important three points on the board one week later courtesy of a 2-0 home success over Newcastle United.


Smith's side then thumped Barrow 6-0 in the EFL Cup but could not make it three straight wins in all competitions, as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Brentford at Villa Park before the international break.


Jack Grealish moved on during the summer transfer window, but the likes of Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey, Danny Ings and Ashley Young arrived, and the club's owners will be expecting a push into the top half of the table considering the quality present in the squad.


Villa, as mentioned, picked up a point at Stamford Bridge last season, but they have not actually beaten the Blues away from home in the Premier League since December 2011, when Stephen Ireland, Stilian Petrov and Darren Bent scored the goals in the English capital.


Smith's team were also inconsistent on their travels in the Premier League last term, but they did manage to record nine wins - just one fewer than Chelsea and Liverpool, and there is no question that this is a potential banana skin for the Champions League holders, particularly after an international break.


Team News


Chelsea will be without the services of James this weekend following his red card against Liverpool, while a FIFA-imposed suspension will also rule Thiago Silva out of the contest.


Romelu Lukaku suffered an injury scare while on international duty with Belgium, but the thigh problem is thought to be minor, and he will be available for the match.


N'Golo Kante will need to be assessed due to an ankle problem, and Tuchel will not take any risks, meaning that Jorginho could be joined in midfield by Mateo Kovacic, although new signing Saul Niguez is also an option for the hosts in the middle of the park.


James's absence could see Cesar Azpilicueta switch to a wing-back role and allow Trevor Chalobah to come into the side in the middle of the defence.


The Blues will also be without the services of Christian Pulisic due to an ankle problem that the United States international suffered representing his country.


As for Villa, key duo Buendia and Emiliano Martinez will both be absent due to quarantine rules, while Trezeguet and Keinan Davis are both still on the sidelines.


Jacob Ramsey and Morgan Sanson remain doubts, but Ezri Konsa, Bailey and Bertrand Traore should all be available for the visitors, meaning that Smith does have options despite some key players being unavailable.


The Villa boss will want to be cautious at Stamford Bridge, but he will find it difficult to resist the temptation to start both fit-again Ollie Watkins and Ings, who has started the new campaign in impressive fashion.


Chelsea possible starting lineup:

Mendy; Christensen, Chalobah, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Kovacic, Jorginho, Alonso; Havertz, Lukaku, Mount


Aston Villa possible starting lineup:

Steer; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Bailey, McGinn, Luiz, El Ghazi; Ings, Watkins


We say: Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa


This is a tough game for Chelsea, who have had a lot of their key players away on international duty. Villa will be a serious threat going forward if both Watkins and Ings are in the starting XI, but we are still expecting the Blues to pick up all three points, albeit by the narrowest of margins.

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