An outbreak of Covid in the Chelsea camp has left them severely depleted, so much so that they handed out three professional debuts on Wednesday night’s trip to Brentford, though they marched on in the cup having run out 2-0 winners on the night with a couple of goals in the final 15 minutes.
Aston Villa have come on leaps and bounds under Steven Gerrard so far, picking up 12 points from a possible 18 and only dropping to the top two in the league, Man City and Liverpool.
Their four wins in that spell have come against three middle-third sides and relegation threatened Norwich, and it’s safe to say Chelsea fit more in the category of the former two sides.
One thing going for the hosts is form. The midlands side would be in the top-four in a table based solely on the last six outings, with only Liverpool and Man City picking up more points than them over this run.
The Blues, however, would be down in seventh with just two victories from those six games, and with Chelsea’s penchant for ridding managers, it won’t take too many more bad results for questions to start getting asked of Thomas Tuchel.
Villa took the three points in this fixture on the final day of last season, though not since 2004 have they managed successive home victories over the Blues.
Chelsea enacted their revenge with a 3-0 victory in the reverse fixture back in September, though that scoreline majorly flattered the hosts on that occasion and we certainly wouldn’t be expecting something similar here.
Under 2.5 Goals
Chelsea still have a host of key attacking players out with covid, so it’s no surprise that their output has been lacking of late, with Mason Mount their only goal scorer in open play from their last seven hours of domestic football.
They’ve had three penalties in this time, so it’s not as if they’re not getting into good attacking positions, but Tuchel will be desperate to see his team regain the kind of prolificacy that saw them keeping tabs with Man City and Liverpool in the early stages of the season.
There’s little sign of that happening now, especially with their absentees, while Villa haven’t exactly got an empty injury room either.
Leon Bailey, Anwar Al Ghazi, Emi Buendia and Bertrand Traore could all be out here, massively limiting their service for Olly Watkins.
Danny Ings’ return is a major boost, though against a Chelsea backline that has so often been impenetrable, we can’t see Villa getting too many, leaving the unders bet the most likely outcome.
UNDER 2.5 GOALS