Aston Villa host Chelsea on the second day of Christmas, when the festive matches roll on.
Before Steven Gerrard’s men suffered a 1-0 loss to Liverpool before seeing their previous trip to Burnley postponed due to the Covid-19 case. However, that and a 2-1 loss to Manchester City are the only matches Villa have failed to win under their new boss. Four wins out of six have given Gerrard a very promising start to life in the Premier League lead, with Villa rising to tenth place in the table.
Chelsea visit Villa Park in the middle of a tough form. Thomas Tuchel’s men are in serious danger of falling by the wayside and making it a two-horse race for the Premier League title, slipping to third after a series of just three wins in eight games, leaving them six points behind leader Manchester City.
Although injuries and Covid-19 absence have not helped their cause, successive disappointing draws with Everton and Wolves in their previous two have simply not been up to the standard of the site.
However, the Blues got a boost on Wednesday night when they saw Brentford 2-0 to seal a first victory of three and a place in the Carabao Cup semifinals.
Here’s a 90-minute preview of an exciting match-up on the second day.
Villa Park will be the site of this / James Gill – Danehouse / GettyImages
When is kick off? Sunday 26 December, 17:30 (GMT)Where is it played? Villa Park, BirminghamWhich TV channel is it on? Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Showcase (UK), fuboTV (USA)Highlights? BBC Match of the Day (UK), Sky Sports Football YouTube channelWho is the judge? Martin AtkinsonWho is WHERE? Stuart Attwell
Gerrard recently admitted that he still had no idea what his team would look like on Sunday, referring to the fact that the Covid-19 situation “seems to change in (his) world every hour”.
Having seen his previous match against Burnley postponed due to an increase in Covid-19 cases, it can be safe to assume that Gerrard, with the time between matches, should be able to invoke a selection of first-team regulars who will have returned to action.
But the manager insisted that he could call on a number of youth players for Sunday’s match.
Marvelous Nakamba Will Be Out Long Term / Sebastian Frej / MB Media / GettyImages
What is certain is that Gerrard will be without Marvelous Nakamba, Bertrand Traore and Leon Bailey as all three continue on their recovery paths.
You can read a predicted lineup for Aston Villa here.
There are some positive and negative sides to absenteeism due to the coronavirus for Chelsea.
Thomas Tuchel revealed on Wednesday that Romelu Lukaku and Callum Hudson-Odoi have registered negative test results and that they have since returned to training according to the new government’s guidelines.
However, Timo Werner continued to test positive so the German forward will continue his isolation period. The same goes for Kai Havertz and Ruben Loftus-Cheeks, who tested positive for the virus days after the aforementioned trio.
Elsewhere, Ben Chilwell will likely continue his stinginess on the treatment table with Hakim Ziyech likely to join him. Andreas Christensen has returned to training.
You can read a predicted lineup for Chelsea here.
The 159 meetings between these two clubs have produced a fairly even record over the years. Chelsea, as you can imagine, comes in at the top with 66 wins compared to Aston Villas 58 (35 draws).
Recently, however, has obviously benefited the Blues. In the last 15 meetings between the two teams, Chelsea have won 12 while Villa have managed to taste victory on only two occasions.
The most memorable match in recent years must be 8-0 as Rafael Benitez’s team handed out to Paul Lambert’s Villans in the 2012/13 campaign.
Well, we can be pretty sure that we will not get an 8-0 humiliation to analyze this time. In fact, what we will most likely get is something much narrower than we had expected in the early stages of the campaign.
While the league positions and the quality of the paper vary enormously between the two sides, the latest form would indicate that a rather exciting battle awaits.
Although the Chelsea line-up should look more like the dynamic machine we are so used to for the trip to Villa Park, their hosts have become visibly energetic by Gerrard’s arrival and have proved to be fierce opposition to the elite and unmanageable to direct rivals.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Chelsea
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