Aston Villa v Chelsea - Match Preview, Stats & Team News

To be played on Saturday 15th March 2014 at 17:30. Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham.

Odds: Aston Villa 13/2, Draw 10/3, Chelsea 6/11

Last season: 1-2

Preview & injury news

Aston Villa's home form hasn't been the best this season but they have won two out of their last three at Villa Park. They're currently six points above the relegation zone in 11th place. Even though they are plenty of teams between them and the relegation zone, they will still be glancing over their shoulder a little, and will be eager to secure Premier League status for next season as swiftly as possible. Their league form of late hasn't been the best and has seen them win only three of their last ten games.

The league leaders are in town this weekend as they try to add another win to their collection in their pursuit of the Premier League title in Jose Mourinho's first season back in charge at Stamford Bridge. They currently sit seven points ahead of the rest but they have played a game more than Liverpool and Arsenal who occupy second and third places - and three games more than Manchester City, who are currently nine points behind in fourth. You would have to go back to the start of December for the last time Chelsea lost a league game as they have become harder to beat as the season has gone on. They also boast the meanest defence having only conceded 22 goals this campaign.

Ryan Bertrand in ineligible for the home side against his parent club but Villa's injury list doesn't seem so bad. Libor Kozak is still recovering from a broken leg, Charles N'Zogbia is still sidelined with a calf problem. Jores Okore is close to returning from a knee injury that has kept him sidelined for a lengthy period.

For Chelsea, Fernando Torres is likely to be missing after injuring himself in the warm up ahead of the 4-0 win against Tottenham last week. Ashley Cole is likely to miss out because of a minor ligament injury but could be back for the second leg of the Champions League tie - but it's possible that David Luiz will return to the squad having been sidelined with a groin problem.

Key stats

Here are the two team's top scorers in the Premier League this season:

Eden Hazard Chelsea FW 13 29 2,460
Christian Benteke Aston Villa FW 9 23 1,858
Samuel Eto'o Chelsea FW 7 18 1,177
Oscar Chelsea MF 6 27 1,770
Andre Schürrle Chelsea FW 6 21 824
Leandro Bacuna Aston Villa MF 5 26 1,977
Libor Kozák Aston Villa FW 4 14 781

Their average possession statistics:

NamePossession PercentagePlayed
Chelsea 54.03 29
Aston Villa 43.18 28

And the amount of clean sheets they have managed to keep this season:

NameClean SheetPlayed
Chelsea 13 29
Aston Villa 7 28

5 players to watch

Christian Benteke - He was in terrific form in Villa's win over Norwich City; and in the recent meetings with Chelsea, he has given their defence a lot of work to do. If Benteke can bring his best game along, and Villa can get him involved as much as possible, Chelsea's back line could be in for a difficult afternoon. 

Nemanja Matic - With Villa's side containing a lot of pace, Matic is likely to have a big role in the middle of the park to shield the back four and break up the play, so the home side doesn't get into their stride. Matic himself has been in pretty impressive form lately, and another top class performance from him will set a good platform for the visitors to build from.

Leandro Bacuna - A quick, sharp midfielder who is predominantly right sided. Bacuna is going to have a big job both going forward and defensively. He is going to have to offer cover to try and negate the threat of Eden Hazard, whilst also trying to give Cesar Azpilicueta problems at the back for Chelsea. He is in for a busy time of it.

Frank Lampard - Lampard has had a big say in the past two meetings between these two sides. He scored a famous brace at Villa Park last season as he broke the Chelsea goalscoring record, and his free-kick provided Branislav Ivanovic the opportunity to win the game at Stamford Bridge earlier on in the season. Will Lampard have another big say in a game against Villa?

Ron Vlaar - Whilst Chelsea may not have had a prolific striker firing in the goals for them all season, they have demonstrated they have players from all over the field who can contribute in front of goal. It could be a busy afternoon for Vlaar and the rest of the Villa defensive unit, as they will need to remain solid, organised and on their guard for the duration of the evening.

Earlier on in the season

Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa - August 2013

It was a difficult game for the home side but they managed to make it two wins from two, and there were a couple of heated scenes on the touchline between the two managers. Chelsea opened the scoring early on after Eden Hazard's shot was turned into his own net by Antonio Luna. The home side couldn't double their lead and Villa pegged the home side back with a terrific goal from Christian Benteke on the stroke of half time. Branislav Ivanovic could have been sent off for an elbow on Benteke - certainly according to Villa boss Paul Lambert. Ivanovic then went on to score a header from a Frank Lampard free kick. Villa also had a penalty appeal turned down when the ball appeared to strike John Terry's arm late on. 

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