All attention returns to the weekend’s Premier League action after Capital One Cup matches took place in midweek. Table toppers Chelsea host Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as they look to consolidate their lead at the top of the log.

The Blues were beaten by a lone goal the last time these two teams met, but with Eden Hazard in good form and Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa now in their ranks, they are now a much stronger opposition.

José Mourinho’s men are in terrific shape having won four and drawn one of their opening five league matches. In their last league fixture against Manchester City, they were pegged back by a Frank Lampard equaliser in the 85th minute after going ahead through Andre Schurrle 14 minutes earlier.

Meanwhile, Villa head to West London on the back of their first defeat of the season last weekend at home to Arsenal. The Villans missed a couple of key players for that fixture after a virus had swept through the club’s training facility.

Paul Lambert is likely to make a similar approach to this match as the one he adopted against Liverpool. With some key players returning to action, they may well be in a strong position to keep the Blues attack at bay.

Team News and Predicted Lineups

José Mourinho has an almost fully fit squad to select from with Costa expected to return to the starting lineup after he was rested during the League Cup tie. With nine changes to the side that faced Bolton, the bulk of the squad should be well-rested for Saturday’s match.

Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian should take the three places behind the centre forward, while Fabregas and Nemanja Matic will be the central midfield pairing. Thibaut Courtois will be in goal for the hosts, with the defence remaining unchanged from last Sunday.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Matic, Fabregas; Hazard, Oscar, Willian; Diego Costa.

Villa look set to welcome a host of players back in the squad after recovering from various illnesses with Nathan Bakar, Darren Bent and Ashley Westwood all expected to be in contention for a starting berth.

Long term casualties Libor Kozak (leg) and Christian Benteke (Achilles) remain sidelined, while the match comes too soon for skipper Ron Vlaar who is struggling with a calf problem.

Aston Villa (4-5-1): Guzan; Hutton, Senderos, Baker, Cissokho;Cleverley, Westwood, Delph, Agbonlahor, Weimann, Richardson.

Key Battle

Diego Costa vs Philippe Senderos

Seven goals in five matches, what more can be said? In Costa, the Blues have the best forward in the Premier League and as the scoring record shows, he will be difficult to stop.

The Sparniard has a weakness though, and that is his ability to get wound up easily. Three bookings in five games is a testament to that fact. Senderos will need to be very careful as the referee would be watching him closely after his antics against Mario Balotelli.

Expect a very physical battle from both players as they will be at each other for the entire duration of the match. If the Swiss defender can tighten his rein on the Chelsea striker without giving away too many cheap freekicks, it will go a long way stifling the attacking threat of the Blues.


Games played: 148, Chelsea wins: 57, Aston Villa wins: 57, Draws: 34


This should be a good game and definitely a big game for both sides. Aston Villa will likely setup in a 4-5-1 formation with the aim of frustrating Mourinho’s men and looking to hit them on the break.

Paul Lambert will likely adopt a slightly more defensive approach but I think the defence will struggle against the likes of Costa and Hazard.

The Chelsea backline too has been struggling of late and will have their hands full with Gabriel Agbonlahor spearheading the Villa offence so there should be goals for both sides in this one. However, the Blues strong form at home leads me to predict all three points in their favour.

Chelsea 3 Aston Villa 1