Aston Villa v Chelsea

1 Apr

Willian and Joleon Lescott


Willian and Joleon Lescott compete for the ball in the reverse fixture, which Chelsea won 2-0

TEAM NEWS

Gabriel Agbonlahor will not feature for Aston Villa against Chelsea after the club announced an investigation into his conduct while on holiday in Dubai.

Adama Traore and Jack Grealish are available for the first time since January after recovering from respective foot and ankle injuries.

Chelsea forward Diego Costa misses the game to complete a two-match ban.

Radamel Falcao could be involved for the first time since October after overcoming a thigh injury.

MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES

John Motson: “What a difference a year can make. Last April, Villa reached the FA Cup final and Chelsea were well on their way to winning the league title.

“This time around, neither club has anything tangible to play for – and both will have new managers in charge next season.

“Villa have overhauled their personnel at the top of the club in recent weeks, and soon it will be time to do the same with the squad. Villa have flirted with relegation for years, and there are those who fear they could struggle in the Championship next season.

“There’s also a rebuilding job to be done at Chelsea, whose season collapsed within a week when they suffered exits from Europe and the FA Cup.

“Changes are afoot at both clubs, and the players are playing for their futures.”

WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY

Aston Villa’s acting manager Eric Black: “We’ve got to try and change something. The atmosphere has been poor in terms of everyone’s been a bit doom and gloom. I can help that process but ultimately I won’t be out on the field.

“I would like the fans to feel we’re going in the right direction. It’s not their responsibility, it’s down to the club and the players. I appreciate it’s been a very difficult time but we’ve got to move forward.”

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink: “We want to get the maximum out of the team regarding the league table, to get the best position possible.

“But also we appeal to the players to say ‘hey, you are a big club which has had a very difficult season and is recovering step by step’. When you play as a big club in a difficult situation, you must have pride as well.”

LAWRO’S PREDICTION

It is all unravelling at Aston Villa, with manager Remi Garde the latest to go. He is probably better off out of there.

As far as Saturday goes, it will be interesting to see the atmosphere at Villa Park but I don’t see the result as being in much doubt.

Prediction: 0-2

Lawro’s full predictions v indie band James

  • Think you can do better than Lawro? Predict the score for this match and the rest of this round’s Premier League fixtures in our Predictor game.
Villa's plight<!–

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • Chelsea have won seven of the last eight Premier League meetings, with the exception being a 1-0 away defeat two years ago.
  • The first goal has been scored in the opening 15 minutes in six of their last eight encounters.

Aston Villa

  • Aston Villa have suffered six successive league defeats and conceded 18 goals in that period.
  • They have lost 21 league games for the first time in a 38-match season. It’s the club’s worst record for 29 years since ending 1986-87 with 22 defeats in 42 games.
  • Remi Garde’s side have lost nine matches at home – one shy of the club record 10 defeats in a season, set in 2013-14.
  • They have only won 19 of their past 85 league games at Villa Park since December 2011, earning just 80 points from those fixtures (W19, D23, L43).
  • The Villans have the division’s worst goalscoring and defensive records, and have only scored six first-half goals all season.
  • Villa’s players have made a league-high 12 errors leading to goals this season.

Chelsea

  • Chelsea are enjoying a 14-match unbeaten run, the best current run in the Premier League. They have not lost in the league during Guus Hiddink’s second spell at the club.
  • The Blues are unbeaten in their last six Premier League away games (W4, D2), conceding just two goals.
  • They have lost nine league games this season but haven’t suffered 10 defeats in a campaign since 1997-98.
  • Branislav Ivanovic has scored five league goals against Aston Villa, more than versus any other opponent.

SAM (Sports Analytics Machine) is a super-computer created by Professor Ian McHale at the University of Salford that is used to predict the outcome of football matches.

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