It’s matchday 11 in the Premier League and Graham Potters’ high-flying Chelsea travel to face Steven Gerrard’s struggling Aston Villa. The Blues haven’t lost a game since Graham Potter took over, and they’re currently in fourth place with a game in hand over the teams ahead of them (Spurs, Manchester City and Arsenal). Their last game was in the Champions League. They went to Milan to play AC Milan and won 2-0 thanks to a great game from Mason Mount and another goal from Aubameyang.
Aston Villa has struggled this season and are currently 16th in the league with only two victories in nine matches. The Villains will try to gather momentum and relieve the burden of their manager, Steven Gerrard, who has been heavily criticised by the media for his team’s dismal performance in recent games. With only one victory in their past five games, the West Midlands club should prioritise a victory, as anything less will raise questions and increase the pressure on Gerrard’s employment at Villa Park.
When & Where?
Date: 16th October 2022.
Time: 1:00 PM (GMT).
Venue: Villa Park.
Referee: Robert Jones.
Assistants: Lee Betts, Ian Hussin.
Fourth Official: Michael Salisbury.
VAR: Stuart Attwell.
Assistant VAR: James Mainwaring.
The Villans have more or less a fully fit squad with Leon Bailey expected to make his return to the starting XI. The poor form of Danny Ings, Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Buendia and Philippe Coutinho puts them at risk of being dropped to accommodate the returning Bailey into the side. Gerrard will look to change his system to more of a counter-attacking style and there could be some big changes in the side to face Chelsea with the likes of Dendoncker and Callum Chambers in the mix to get a start.
Chelsea have been hit with a huge injury crisis with Kante, Reece James and Wesley Fofana out with long-term injuries. Kante had an injury setback after making progress in his recovery which has put his World Cup ambitions in doubt as he remains sidelined for another 3 months. Reece James picked up an injury in the game against AC Milan midweek and was subbed off with the injury worse than expected. There are rumours he could be out until after the World Cup with major damage to his knee. Wesley Fofana is also expected to make his injury return in January. Mason Mount missed the last training session with a precautionary scan scheduled for his bruised knee which means the Englishman is a doubt for the game.
Aston Villa have failed to convert the chances they create in the final third with only 7 goals scored in 9 games which is a poor stat considering the talent they have in attack. Their last outing was a poor display as they were held to a draw by Nottingham Forest as the veteran Ashley Young was on the scoresheet for Villa. The game plan against Chelsea would be to defend deep and try to score on the counterattack. Leon Bailey’s injury return and the injury to Reece James would have been very good news for Gerrard as the right side of the Chelsea backline is vulnerable to attacks. A positive result on Sunday would help the gaffer buy more time to save his job but a defeat would mean the Villa board will have to consider potential replacements as the Villans would drop into the relegation zone if other results don’t go their way.
Graham Potter’s style of play has already received plaudits from the Chelsea faithful as their side is playing possession-based attacking football. With 4 wins and a draw in his first 5 games as Chelsea boss, Potterball is in full effect. The injury crisis would mean the Blues will miss their key players but they have good squad depth to cover for their injuries. Potter’s system has unlocked the Chelsea attack which was misfiring under Tuchel which has seen them score 11 goals in 5 games averaging 2.2 goals per game. They will have to compensate for the absence of Mason Mount in the final third to link the midfield and attack with Conor Gallagher being the obvious replacement as the midfielder would shift to his preferred position as an advanced playmaker. It will be an interesting watch as the two teams battle it out to get 3 points with the Blues wanting to close the gap to Spurs in 3rd place and Villa aiming to avoid dropping into the relegation zone.
The Gabon marksman has had a great start to his Chelsea career with 3 goals and an assist in 5 games. He has been clinical with his 3 goals coming from 3 shots on target so far. A depleted Villa defence will be another opportunity for him to increase his goal tally and help his side take all 3 points back to West London.
The Jamaican will be the biggest attacking threat on the pitch for the Chelsea defence. His dribbling, pace and eye for goal make him the most likely player to score and cause damage to the Blues. The absence of Reece James on the flank is a blessing in disguise for Bailey to exploit the spaces behind the defense. He has a goal and an assist in the limited appearances he has made this season and he will want to get his season back on track with the game against an injury-stricken Chelsea being a good chance to do so.
Aston Villa predicted XI vs Chelsea: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Buendia, Watkins, Coutinho.
Chelsea predicted XI vs Aston Villa: Arrizabalaga; Chalobah, Silva, Koulibaly; Loftus Cheek, Kovacic, Jorginho, Chilwell; Sterling; Gallagher; Aubameyang.