The last time the two clubs met at Villa Park, Martin O’ Neill was at Aston Villa as the Villans defeated the Blues 2-1.
Much has happened since then. Chelsea avenged their defeat with 7-1 and 3-0 wins in their next two encounters. Martin O’Neill has left his job at Villa Park and last season’s impressive performers have been looking jaded in the new season.
After a superb overall performance last season saw the Villans lose out on fourth place just by a whisker, the expectations were high in the new season. Aston Villa were expected to trouble the top four and emerge as a top-four contender. But it seems the expectations have weighed down the squad. The lack of transfer funds saw the Villa Park club remaining largely the same after inviting some top signings. Other than City’s prodigal son Stephen Ireland there were no significant arrivals.
Moreover, the sale of Villa’s celebrated midfielder James Milner to Manchester City attracted the wrath of both fans as well as former manager Martin O’Neill. The sale of Milner ultimately led to O’Neill’s departure as well as Villa’s unimpressive start to the season. The midfielder and manager’s departure wreaked havoc in the Villa camp. They started their new season with a comfortable win over West Ham before succumbing to a shocking 6-0 loss to newly-promoted Newcastle.
Thereafter Aston Villa has had a very nervy start. They won against formidable opponents while losing out or drawing to weaker ones. On the other hand, the Blues have been on a roller-coaster ride with 23 goals scored and only two conceded in their first seven league fixtures. Except for a loss to Manchester City, the Stamford Bridge outfit has been on high clouds. The summer transfer window saw the departure of important players like Deco, Ballack, Joe Cole and Carvalho severely deplete the Chelsea squad. It was predicted that Ancelotti’s double-winning squad would face problems in the new season, but, if the first two months of the new season are anything to go by, then the Blues seems to be in brilliant form, much ahead of their title rivals.
Frenchman Malouda has kept his last season’s form intact and has even bettered it with brilliant displays on the field. Chelsea’s talismanic Ivorian striker and 2009-10 season’s Golden Boot winner Didier Drogba has to been dangerous in front of the goal. Anelka, Essien, Terry and Lampard too have been in good nick. New signings Ramires and the Israeli Yossi Benayoun too have had impressive starts. The team looks in good shape and players are combining very well with each other. Moreover, the comparatively easier start has helped increase the team’s confidence. When Chelsea visit Villa Park this weekend, last season’s 2-1 loss will be on their minds and they will be prepared to avenge that defeat for the third time with another massive win.
Aston Villa on their part will have painful memories of their 7-1 and 3-0 losses to Chelsea and will be looking to avenge the humiliation. Chelsea are on a dream run with their players in peak form. Moreover, Lampard and long-term absentee Bosingwa are expected to join the squad, which should be good news for Ancelotti and his men. The players will be high on confidence after last week’s 2-0 win over rivals Arsenal and will be looking to increase the gap further. Aston Villa lost to the Spurs last week and are seemingly not in the best of form.
The match looks to end in favour of Chelsea 3-1 (if not more), but football is an unpredictable game so nobody knows what might happen.