Chelsea seek to get their Premier League campaign back on track. Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa look to continue a fine run of form. Who will win when the two sides lock horns in Birmingham on Sunday?
Chelsea resume their busy schedule with a Boxing Day match-up at Villa Park. The Blues now sit six points behind English Premier League (EPL) leaders, Manchester City, and in 3rd place.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa return to action sitting in 10th position, courtesy of recording 12 points from six games, since manager Steven Gerrard’s arrival.
Despite the chance of Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku and Callum Hudson-Odoi coming back into the squad after coronavirus, neither player is expected to be gambled on from the opening whistle.
With Thomas Tuchel now having more midfielders available, Mateo Kovačić could partner Jorginho in the engine room, with N’Golo Kanté playing further forward, alongside Mason Mount.
Hakim Ziyech is a doubt with a calf injury, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Kai Havertz are expected to miss out due to COVID. However, Trevoh Chalobah is poised to feature in the back three.
Gerrard has not revealed which Villa players look like missing this game with positive tests, leaving it difficult to predict a starting XI with any degree of confidence.
The only confirmed absentees are Zimbabwean midfielder, Marvelous Nakamba, as well as forwards, Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traoré, due to injury.
Despite Villa’s improvement under Gerrard, we expect a narrow away victory here. Our prediction is 2-1 to Chelsea, with the winner netted in the second half.
Aston Villa possible starting XI:
Martínez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Buendia, Watkins, Young
Chelsea possible starting XI:
Mendy; Chalobah, Silva, Rüdiger; James, Jorginho, Kovačić, Alonso; Kanté, Mount; Pulisic